Over the years, there has been a great interest in ways to delay or prevent Alzheimer’s Dementia. Besides use of drugs, some researchers feel that perhaps a change in diet may help prevent the decline in cognitive impairment that occurs in old age.
It is widely believed that a healthy diet may help prevent development of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and delay onset of Alzheimer’s disease (AD).
Current estimates indicate that about 10 percent to 15 percent of individuals with MCI convert to AD each year.
One of the diets thought to have some benefit in delaying mild cognitive impairment is the Mediterranean diet. Previous clinical research revealed that conformity to a Mediterranean diet was linked to a reduced risk for AD, but its effect on developing MCI was unknown.
The recent study from Washington Heights Inwood Columbia Aging Project (WHICAP) looked at the benefits of adherence to a Mediterranean diet and development of mild cognitive impairment over several years.
To explore whether cognitively normal individuals whose food intake was more representative of a Mediterranean diet were less likely to develop MCI, the researchers examined data from 1,393 cognitively normal individuals and 484 individuals with MCI who were participants in the WHICAP multiethnic community study in New York. The majority of individuals studied were in the 7/8th decade of life.
Study participants were given a score of 0 to 9 based on their faithfulness to a Mediterranean diet, where 9 indicated greatest adherence to this diet.
Strong adherence to a Mediterranean diet was characterized by a high intake of fish, fruit, vegetables, legumes, cereal and unsaturated fat, a low intake of dairy products and meat and a moderate intake of alcohol/wine.