Mediterranean Diet Could Ward Off Dementia

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One U.S. expert said diet is only one aspect in the Alzheimer’s picture.

“We continue to see literature revolve around nutrition and diet and what it might mean in later life,” said Heather Snyder, vice president for medical and scientific relations at the Alzheimer’s Association.

Diet, however, isn’t the only lifestyle factor that might lower the risk for Alzheimer’s disease, she said.

“I think the data continues to evolve and demonstrate that lifestyle interventions are likely beneficial for reducing cognitive decline,” Snyder said.

Other lifestyle components, such as exercise, are also important, she said. It’s not clear yet how diet and exercise reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

“I think the key is to really understand what that recipe is, because it’s unlikely to be any one thing,” Snyder said. “It’s more likely going to be a combination and the synergy of those behaviors that is most beneficial.”

Snyder noted that these same lifestyle factors help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and even some cancers. “But there is the need to tease out how and what might be the most beneficial for each of those,” she added.

“When we look at Alzheimer’s and cognition and cognitive decline, we have consistently seen diets like the Mediterranean diet are associated with lower risk in later life. What they all have in common is that a balanced diet makes sure your brain has the nutrients that it needs,” Snyder said.

“I think what we know is what’s good for your heart is good for your brain, so eat a balanced diet,” she said. “There’s no one right diet, but make sure you get all the nutrients you need, but also get active, get moving and stay engaged.”

The report was published online May 5 in the journal Neurology.




More information

For more on Alzheimer’s disease and diet, see the Alzheimer’s Association.


SOURCES: Tommaso Ballarini, PhD, German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases, Bonn, Germany; Heather Snyder, PhD, vice president, medical and scientific relations, Alzheimer’s Association; Neurology, May 5, 2021, online