Study Finds This Popular Diet Is Still One Of The Best At Preventing Cognitive Decline

The results of a recent study published in Alzheimer's and Dementia further support the theory that adhering to a nutritious diet can support better health. The study specifically focused on metabolites (small molecules) in the blood, directly associated with diet, and how their levels impact cognitive function. By identifying the specific metabolites that are associated with diet, researchers say they can better determine what makes up a healthier diet. They can also use these metabolites as markers to measure the success of an improved diet, potentially reducing the risk of cognitive decline.

The study, which was conducted across various racial and ethnic groups, also revealed that there may be a bidirectional relationship between nutrition and cognitive function. This means that diet impacts cognitive function and, conversely, poor cognitive function may have an impact on the quality of one's nutrition. However, Dr. Perminder Sachdev, a professor of neuropsychiatry who was not involved in the study, told MedicalNewsToday that the results of the study were a good step in support of a healthy diet. However, diet alone is not the only determinant of blood metabolites — genetics, health issues, and lifestyle are also associated with blood metabolite levels.

Why the Mediterranean diet may prevent cognitive decline

The results of the study pointed to specific types of food groups that appear to be associated with preventing cognitive decline. These included foods associated with what is known as the Mediterranean diet, per MedicalNewsToday.

According to the Mayo Clinic, the Mediterranean diet consists of the types of foods people who live in Greece, Italy, and other countries along the Mediterranean Sea regularly eat. The diet is primarily comprised of plant-based foods, such as vegetables, nuts, fruits, and whole grains, along with small amounts of fish, seafood, and dairy, but little to no red meat and refined sugars. The primary added fat is olive oil, a monounsaturated fat known to lower cholesterol. The diet gained popularity around the 1950s when it was reported that people who lived in these areas had lower levels of heart disease.

Healthline notes that adhering to the Mediterranean diet may improve brain health, and the publication provided a sample weekly menu guide. For breakfast, it suggests items, such as Greek yogurt with fruit and nuts, oatmeal or eggs, and whole grain toast. A delicious lunch can be a whole grain veggie sandwich or a falafel bowl with feta, onions, tomatoes, hummus, and rice. For dinner, treat yourself to a healthy and satisfying portion of broiled salmon or grilled chicken with your favorite veggies and sweet potato fries.