Dementia is a devastating disease, affecting millions of people worldwide. With no cure for dementia, researchers are looking for ways to reduce the risk of developing the disease. In recent years, researchers have focused on lifestyle factors that may affect dementia risk, including one’s diet.
A recent study published in BMC Medicine reported that following a traditional Mediterranean diet may reduce the risk of developing dementia. The Mediterranean diet emphasizes the consumption of fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains, fish, and olive oil, and limits the intake of processed foods, red meat, and dairy products. Historically, the diet has been associated with a reduced risk of several chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer.
The study analyzed data from the UK Biobank and included data from 60,298 individuals who had completed a dietary assessment and were followed up for an average of 9.1 years. During the study period, a total of 882 cases of dementia were reported.
The results of the study suggested that individuals who had a higher adherence to a Mediterranean diet had up to 23% lower risk of developing dementia compared with those who had a lower adherence to the diet. This finding suggests that the Mediterranean diet may be an important modifiable risk factor for dementia that could be targeted for disease prevention and risk reduction.
Additionally, the authors of the study also investigated the impact of genetics on the relationship between diet and dementia risk. They found that there was no significant association between the polygenic risk for dementia and adherence to a Mediterranean diet, further suggesting that the association between greater adherence to the diet and a reduced dementia risk remains, irrespective of the individual genetic risk for dementia.
“These results underline the importance of dietary interventions in future dementia prevention strategies regardless of genetic predisposition,” the authors wrote.
To conclude their analysis, the authors cautioned that their study is limited to individuals and that further research is needed in a wider range of populations to determine the potential benefit of a Mediterranean diet. “Further research into the interaction between diet and genetics on dementia risk is therefore warranted,” they stated.