A study published in Frontiers in Nutrition in July confirmed that following the Mediterranean Diet (MedDiet) slows cognitive decline and can lower the risk for Alzheimers.
The study was a systemic review of research over the past 15 years to understand how the MedDiet affects cognitive processes over time. They define the MedDiet as “abundant consumption of plant foods, such as leafy greens, fresh fruit and vegetables, cereals, beans, seeds, nuts, and legumes. The MedDiet is also low in dairy, has minimal red meats, and uses olive oil as its major source of fat.”
When looking at the risk factors for cognitive decline, they found that the risks are linked to other illnesses such as cardiovascular disease, stroke, and diabetes, suggesting that lifestyle changes and interventions could lower these risks. Additionally, the study proposes that “age is associated with increased oxidative stress and free radical damage. Inflammation and oxidative stress may therefore be critical targets for the amelioration of declining health and brain function across the life span, which can potentially be addressed through improved nutrition and increased physical activity.”
Because of extra virgin olive oil’s anti-inflammatory properties and high antioxidant content, many studies have sought to confirm the link between consumption and risk reduction.
The study listed many other risk factors in the decline of cognitive processing speed, memory loss, and other neurodegenerative diseases and ultimately found that many aspects of the MedDiet lower these risks.
“The MedDiet has been reported to be protective against diseases associated with chronic inflammation, cancer, diabetes, obesity, pulmonary disease, cardiovascular disease, and cognitive disorders (57). A diet with the nutritional qualities of the MedDiet has been shown to reduce homocysteine levels, considered a risk factor for age-associated cognitive decline (58, 59). The MedDiet pattern is largely void of refined sugar, cholesterol, and trans fats, aspects of diet that are considered to be associated with poor cognitive outcomes in older age (60, 61); with saturated fats impacting negatively on learning and memory and the potential for increasing metabolic distress (62). ”
Lastly, the study described that changing diet not only slows degeneration into dementia and Alzheimers but actually improves the brain’s function.
So while we can’t avoid aging, we can give our body the best nutrients possible to keep it functioning at its highest potential. It’s time we take responsibility for our health! Eat well friends!
Shop our highest antioxidant extra virgin olive oil here or read our blog for age-defying Mediterranean recipes.