According to a new study, people who follow a Mediterranean or MIND diet may have fewer signs of Alzheimer’s disease in their brain tissue.
Published Wednesday in the online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology, the study found that those who follow these plant-based diets may have fewer amyloid plaques and tau tangles in their bodies. brain than people who don’t eat that way. .
A Mediterranean diet, modeled after the region’s traditional cuisines, emphasizes fresh fruits and vegetables, fish, legumes, nuts, and whole grains.
The MIND diet stands for “Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay” and combines many elements of the Mediterranean and DASH diets (“Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension”).
“These results are exciting,” study author Puja Agarwal, PhD, of Rush University in Chicago, said in a press release. “Although our research does not prove that a healthy diet leads to less brain deposits of amyloid plaques, also known as an indicator of Alzheimer’s disease, we do know that there is a relationship and following the MIND and Mediterranean diets can be a way for people to improve their brain health and protect cognition as they age.”
After accounting for other factors in the 581 people they studied, the researchers found that “people who scored highest for adherence to the Mediterranean diet had average amounts of plaque and tangles. in their brains similar to being 18 years younger than the people with the lowest scores”. And for those who had the best results following the MIND diet, their amounts of plaque and tangles were similar to those of being 12 years younger.
By looking at specific components of the diet, the researchers found that leafy greens appeared to be the strongest asset.
“People who ate the highest amounts of green leafy vegetables, seven or more servings per week, had nearly 19 fewer amounts of plaque in their brains than people who ate the least, with a serving or less per week,” the statement said.
“Our finding that eating more green leafy vegetables is in itself associated with fewer signs of Alzheimer’s disease in the brain is intriguing enough that people are considering adding more of these vegetables to their diets,” said said Agarwal.
Amyloid plaques and tau tangles in the brain are associated with the development of Alzheimer’s disease, although their specific cause is unclear, and the researchers note that they can also appear in some older people whose cognitive functioning has not been altered.
The Mediterranean diet focuses on “vegetables, fruits and three or more servings of fish per week”, while the MIND diet favors “green leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale and collards as well as other vegetables…prioritizes berries over other fruits and recommends one or more servings of fish per week,” the statement said.
The study had limitations. The participants were mostly white, non-Hispanic, and older, so the findings “cannot be generalized to other populations,” the statement said.
“Future studies are needed to further our findings,” Agarwal added.
And while this latest study doesn’t prove causation, it follows previous research that found a similar association between our diet and brain health.
In 2015, researchers found The MIND diet can reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease by up to 53%.
Even those who didn’t stick to the diet perfectly but followed it “moderately well” reduced their risk of Alzheimer’s disease by about a third, the study found.