There always seems to be new research out there touting the benefits of various foods, and it can be hard to keep up. But one recent study caught our eye. According to new research published by BMC Medicine, following a Mediterranean diet could lower one's risk for dementia.
This is big news because, according to the Population Reference Bureau, "if current demographic and health trends continue, more than nine million Americans could have dementia by 2030 and nearly 12 million by 2040."
The study claims that, "higher adherence to a Mediterranean diet was associated with reduced dementia risk...These results underline the importance of dietary interventions in future dementia prevention strategies regardless of genetic predisposition."
So what exactly is the Mediterranean diet and how can it potentially lower the risk of dementia?
We got in touch with Dr. Stacie Stephenson, Certified Nutrition Specialist and Doctor of Chiropractic, to help break down the diet and the foods associated with it.
"The Mediterranean diet is not one exact thing...Rather, the Mediterranean diet is an approximation of the diet people eat, or the traditional diet people used to eat, in the countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea," Dr. Stephenson said.
She explained that the diet should heavily feature vegetables, fruit, legumes, protein mainly from seafood with some poultry, nuts and seeds, and olive oil as the primary fat (rather than butter). As for dairy, small amounts are alright, and they are mostly fermented, like yogurt. You can drink alcohol on a Mediterranean diet, but it should be small amounts of red wine.
As to the question of how exactly the Mediterranean diet lowers the risk of dementia, Dr. Stephenson clarified that this likely stems from a combination of several benefits.
"First and foremost is likely the high level of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory components in the large proportion of vegetables people tend to eat on a traditional Mediterranean diet," Dr. Stephenson said. "Many studies have linked high vegetable and fruit consumption with a lower risk of dementia. Another influence is likely to be the healthful, anti-inflammatory effects of the omega-3 fatty acids in seafood, which is widely consumed in the Mediterranean because all the countries border the Mediterranean sea."
"Another positive effect of the Mediterranean diet is that it consists of primarily whole foods, and since processed foods tend to be inflammatory, the simple absence of these foods can lower dementia risk," she added.
Well, now we have a good idea for what we'll be cooking tonight.
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