The anti-ageing mind diet
The adage that â€œyou are what you eatâ€ has been validated time and again by modern researchers as well as empirical observation over the centuries. In recent times the Mediterranean Diet has been receiving a lot of credit as being a healthy way to eat. Now a new study suggests that Mediterranean style eating may also keep your brain sharper as you age.
The basis of the Mediterranean diet is a lot of fruits, vegetables, legumes, olive oil, fish, and wine. Typically, red meat does not play a major part in the Mediterranean way of eating. From the fruit and vegetables you get nutrients including antioxidants and fibre. Legumes are a protein source and also provide a range of nutrients. Olive oil yields healthy monounsaturated fats as well as antioxidants. Fish provides protein and healthy omega-3 fats while wine offers antioxidant and alcohol itself which in moderate amounts (1-2 glasses daily) offers health benefits too.
Over the years the Mediterranean diet has been credited with reducing the risk of developing a range of conditions including heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. This study set out to see if it might have some benefit to offer the brain as well.
Almost 4000 people aged 65 and over were recruited for the study. They were assessed as to how closely their diet matched a Mediterranean style diet using a test called the MedDiet scale. Then every three years the participants did tests that measured their word memory and basic math skills to see if they were experiencing cognitive decline.
Over time it emerged that people who scored higher on the MedDiet scale had slower rates of cognitive decline. To put this in perspective, the MedDiet scale has a maximum score of 55. The results showed that a person who scored ten points higher on the MedDiet scale than another person performed mentally as if he or she was three years younger than the other adult with the lower MedDiet score. In simple terms, eating a Mediterranean style diet keeps your brain young.
It all happens because the antioxidants and healthy fats in the Mediterranean diet reduce the oxidation and inflammation that contribute to conditions like Alzheimerâ€™s Disease. Moderate wine consumption has also been shown to protect the brain.
An additional factor is that most of the Mediterranean diet is based on raw foods with minimal processing. Add the fact that these foods are often consumed around a table with family and friends and it is not hard to imagine why the Mediterranean way is such a positive thing.