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Study suggests Mediterranean-style diet helps protect people from dementia

The Herald

A MEDITERRANEAN-STYLE diet helps protect people from dementia, according to a new study.

Eating large amounts of red meat, sugar, fried and fat-rich foods ages the brain by “several” years, scientists said.

But if you choose a diet rich in fish, vegetables and olive oil, it may protect the brain from protein build-up that can lead to dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Researchers examining the link between a Mediterranean diet and the brain found a relationship between foods participants ate and their cognitive abilities.

The study looked at abnormal proteins called amyloid and tau. Amyloid is a protein that forms into plaques, while tau is a protein that forms into tangles. Both are found in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease.

The Mediterranean diet includes a high intake of vegetables, legumes, fruits, cereals, fish and monounsaturated fatty acids such as olive oil, and a low intake of saturated fatty acids, dairy products and meat.

Researchers took brain scans of participants and asked them to recount how often they ate a list of 148 items and totalled up the scores to see how closely they followed a Mediterranean diet on a scale from zero to nine.

People who scored full marks often ate healthy foods like vegetables, fruit and fish, and occasionally ate foods that were non-typical like red meat.

Every less point they scored equated to almost one year of brain ageing.

The study involved 169 people who were cognitively normal, while 343 were identified as being at higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

When looking at amyloid and tau in people’s spinal fluid, those who did not follow the diet closely had higher levels of biomarkers of amyloid and tau pathology than those who did.

When it came to a test of memory, people who did not follow the diet scored worse than those who did.

CREDIT: FL-Maureen.Sugden