Mediterranean style diet may prevent dementia

The Mediterranean diet is easy to find in the grocery store, contains nutrients that are known to enhance longevity and has other health benefits that are backed by peer-reviewed, scientific studies. Broccoli makes the list because it's one of nature's most nutrient-dense foods, with only 30 calories per cup. That means you get a ton of hunger-curbing fiber and polyphenols -- antioxidants that detoxify cell-damaging chemicals in your body -- with each serving.

(CNN)Meals from the sunny Mediterranean have been linked to stronger bones, a healthier heart and longer life, along with a reduced risk for diabetes and high blood pressure.

Now you can add lowering your risk for dementia to the ever growing list of reasons to follow the Mediterranean diet or one of its dietary cousins.
New research being presented at the International Alzheimer’s Association conference in London this week found healthy older adults who followed the Mediterranean or the similar MIND diet lowered their risk of dementia by a third.
Mediterranean diet linked to lower risk of heart attack, stroke

Mediterranean diet linked to lower risk of heart attack, stroke
“Eating a healthy plant-based diet is associated with better cognitive function and around 30% to 35% lower risk of cognitive impairment during aging,” said lead author Claire McEvoy, of the University of California, San Francisco’s School of Medicine.
McEvoy stressed that because the study was conducted in a nationally representative older population “the findings are relevant to the general public.”
“While 35% is a greater than expected decrease for a lifestyle choice, I am not surprised,” said Rudolph Tanzi, who directs the Genetics and Aging Research Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital and recently co-authored a book with Deepak Chopra on genes and aging called “Super Genes.”
“The activity of our genes is highly dependent on four main factors: diet, exercise, sleep and stress management,” said Tanzi, who was not involved in the study. “Of these, perhaps diet is most important.”
Eating the Mediterranean diet may lead to a longer life
McEvoy’s study investigated at the eating habits of nearly 6,000 older Americans with an average age of 68. After adjusting for age, gender, race, low educational attainment and lifestyle and health issues — such as obesity, hypertension, diabetes, depression, smoking and physical inactivity — researchers found that those who followed the MIND or Mediterranean diet had a 30% to 35% lower risk of cognitive impairment.
The more people stayed on those diets, said McEvoy, the better they functioned cognitively.
Those who marginally followed the diet also benefited, but by a much smaller margin. They were 18% less likely to exhibit signs of cognitive impairment.

What are the Mediterranean and MIND diets?

Forget lasagne, pizza, spanakopita and lamb souvlaki — they are not on the daily menu of those who live by the sunny Mediterranean seaside.
The true diet is simple, plant-based cooking, with the majority of each meal focused on fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans and seeds, with a few nuts and a heavy emphasis on extra virgin olive oil. Say goodbye to refined sugar or flour and fats other than olive oil, such as butter, are consumed rarely, if at all.
Meat can make a rare appearance, but usually only to flavor a dish. Instead, meals may include eggs, dairy and poultry, but in much smaller portions than in the traditional Western diet. Fish, however, are a staple.
The MIND diet takes the best brain foods of the Mediterranean diet and the famous salt-reducing DASH diet, and puts them together. MIND encourages a focus on eating from 10 healthy food groups while rejecting foods from five unhealthy groups.
MIND stands for Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay, with DASH standing for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension.
MIND was developed by Martha Clare Morris, a nutritional epidemiologist at Chicago’s Rush University Medical Center in the US.
Is the Mediterranean diet good for kids, too?

Is the Mediterranean diet good for kids, too?
Those who follow MIND reject butter and stick margarine, red meats, cheeses, fried or fast food and sweets. Instead, they eat at least six servings a week of green leafy vegetables such as spinach or kale, and at least one serving a day of another vegetable. Three servings a day of whole grains are a must.
They also add in at least three servings of beans, two or more servings of berries, two servings of chicken or turkey, and once serving of fish each week. Olive oil is their main cooking ingredient, and they drink a glass of wine a day.
Morris has some powerful stats behind her diet.
In 2015, she studied 923 Chicago-area seniors and found those who say they followed the diet religiously had a 53% lower chance of getting Alzheimer’s, while those who followed it moderately lowered their risk by about 35%. Follow-up observational studies showed similar benefits.
Morris and her colleagues are currently recruiting volunteers for a three-year clinical study to try to prove the link.

Additional evidence

A second study presented at the conference also examined the impact of the MIND diet. Researchers from Wake Forest School of Medicine followed 7,057 women, average age 71, over almost 10 years and found those who most closely followed the MIND diet had a 34% reduction in the risk of developing Alzheimer’s.
High-fat Mediterranean diet, not low-fat one, is how you lose weight

High-fat Mediterranean diet, not low-fat one, is how you lose weight
A third study at the conference looked at the dietary habits of 2,223 dementia-free Swedish adults over six years who followed the Nordic Prudent Dietary Pattern (NPDP) diet, which avoids sweets and fatty and processed foods. Instead, the diet emphasizes eating non-root vegetables, apple/pears/peaches, pasta/rice, poultry, fish, vegetable oils, tea and water, and light to moderate wine intake.
Swedes who stuck to the diet at a moderate or higher level preserved their cognitive function better than those who ate more processed and fatty foods.
Lastly, a fourth study examined MRI brain scans of 330 cognitively normal adults, with an average age of 79, and found eating foods that raise inflammation in the body — such as sweets, processed foods and fried and fatty foods — raised the risk for a shrinking “aging” brain and lower cognitive function.
That comes as no surprise to neurologist Rudy Tanzi.
“Foods that keep blood pressure normal, provide us with antioxidants, and maintain healthy bacteria in our gut, or microbiome, will serve to help keep chronic inflammation in check in the brain and entire body,” said Tanzi.
Despite the similarities of the results, experts point out that all of this research is observational, meaning that it is based on reports by individuals as to what they eat. To prove the connection between diet and dementia risk, said McEvoy, researchers will need to move to scientifically controlled experiments.
“I think the studies, taken together, suggest a role for high quality dietary patterns in brain health and for protection against cognitive decline during aging,” said McEvoy. “Diet is modifiable, and in light of these studies we need clinical trials to test whether changing diet can improve or maintain cognition.”
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Until that definite proof is available, say experts, there’s no harm in using this information to makes changes in your diet and lifestyle that could help protect your brain.
“Although the idea that a healthy diet can help protect against cognitive decline as we age is not new, the size and length of these four studies demonstrate how powerful good dietary practices may be in maintaining brain health and function,” said Keith Fargo, Alzheimer’s Association Director of Scientific Programs and Outreach.
Tanzi agrees. “It’s about time we started placing a greater emphasis on what we eat as we strive to have our ‘healthspan’ keep up with our increasing ‘lifespan’.”
[“Source-edition”]

Parts of Mediterranean diet shown to prevent colorectal cancer

mediterranean diet components

New research singles out a few key elements of the Mediterranean diet that are most important for colorectal health.
The benefits of the so-called Mediterranean diet have been hailed in the news over recent years. Now, new research looks closely at the elements of the diet that could help to prevent the risk of colorectal cancer.

Among many other benefits, the Mediterranean diet has been shown to lower the risk of colorectal cancer. But the specifics of this beneficial role have not been studied in depth.

New research – presented at the ESMO 19th World Congress on Gastrointestinal Cancer, held in Barcelona, Spain – singles out the few components of the Mediterranean diet key for preventing colorectal cancer. The first author of the study is Naomi Fliss Isakov, Ph.D., of the Tel-Aviv Medical Center in Israel.

More specifically, the research looks at the link between the components of the diet taken both separately and in combination, as well as the risk of developing advanced colorectal polyps.

Colorectal cancer tends to develop from advanced polyps, or adenoma. However, the chances of polyps becoming malignant depend on various factors, including size, structure, and location.

Zooming in on the Mediterranean diet

Dr. Isakov and team examined 808 people who were undergoing either screening or diagnostic colonoscopies.

The participants were aged between 40 and 70 years old and were not at a high risk of colorectal cancer. The researchers took anthropometric measurements – such as body mass index (BMI) and height – of the participants, and they asked them to fill in a food frequency questionnaire. They also took part in a medical and lifestyle interview.

The researchers defined adherence to the Mediterranean diet as an above-average consumption of fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and whole grains, as well as fish and poultry.

A below-median intake of red meat, alcohol, and soft drinks was also considered to be a key component of the diet. A Mediterranean diet was also described as having “a high ratio of monounsaturated to saturated fatty acids.”

For the purposes of the study, the researchers defined advanced polyps as adenomas larger than 10 millimeters in size, with a “high-grade dysplasia or villous histology.”

As the American Cancer Society (ACS) explain, the term “dysplasia” refers to the abnormal aspect of the polyps. “High-grade dysplasia” is a term used to describe polyps that appear abnormal or cancer-like. The ACS also note that larger adenomas tend to have a villous growth pattern and are more likely to lead to cancer.

Dr. Isakov and colleagues also examined healthy controls who did not have any polyps, either in the past or at the time of the study.

More fish, fruit reduces risk

Having compared individuals with polyp-free colonoscopies and those whose colonoscopy showed advanced polyps, the authors found a clear association between components of the Mediterranean diet and the risk of colorectal cancer.

People with advanced polyps reported consuming fewer elements of the Mediterranean diet. More specifically, the average was 1.9 Mediterranean diet components in the advanced polyps group, compared with 4.5 components in the polyp-free group.

Surprisingly, even two or three elements of the diet correlated with a 50 percent reduction in the risk of advanced polyps, compared with consuming no key components at all.

Additionally, the risk further decreased as the number of Mediterranean elements increased. The more elements of the Mediterranean diet people consumed, the lower were the chances of advanced polyps showing up in their colonoscopies.

The researchers adjusted for other risk factors associated with colorectal cancer and found that increased fish and fruit consumption, together with a low intake of soft drinks, was most likely to reduce the risk of advanced polyps.

We found that each one of these three choices was associated with a little more than 30 percent reduced odds of a person having an advanced, pre-cancerous colorectal lesion, compared to people who did not eat any of the MD [Mediterranean diet] components.”

Naomi Fliss Isakov, Ph.D.

She concluded, “Among people who made all three healthy choices the benefit was compounded to almost 86 percent reduced odds.”

ESMO spokesperson Dr. Dirk Arnold, of the Instituto CUF de Oncologia in Lisbon, Portugal, also comments on the findings, saying, “This large population-based cohort-control study impressively confirms the hypothesis of an association of colorectal polyps with diets and other lifestyle factors.”

“This stands in line with other very recent findings on nutritive effects, such as the potential protective effects of nut consumption and vitamin D supplementation which have been shown earlier this year.”

“However,” adds Dr. Arnold, “it remains to be seen whether these results are associated with reduced mortality, and it is also unclear if, and when a dietary change would be beneficial.”

Next, the authors plan to investigate the effects of the Mediterranean diet in a group at high risk of developing colorectal cancer.

[“Source-medicalnewstoday”]