A study at the University of Alabama, Birmingham has found that the Mediterranean diet may help to keep the memory strong. This diet places strong emphasis on foods that are high in Omega-3 fatty acids commonly found in olive oil, and fish, while working to avoid dairy, meat and saturated fats.
It has been shown that when people consume a primarily Mediterranean type of diet, they are more likely to have a strong memory and are able to think more clearly later in life. The study did not find that those with diabetes who enjoyed this type of diet reaped the same benefits.
The study was published in the April 30 issue of Neurology, which is the American Academy of Neurology’s medical journal.
While there are no solid treatments for illnesses such as Alzheimer’s and dementia, taking control of the diet may help to delay the symptoms of dementia. Georgios Tsivgoulis, M.D., neurologist with the University of Athens, Greece and UAB feels that diet may be a tremendously important first step in helping to treat dementia type illnesses.
In the study, 30,239 people aged 45 and older were followed for four years. The study gathered diet information from over 17,000 African Americans and Caucasians who were of the average age of 64. Their diets were examined to determine how closely they followed a Mediterranean diet. Participants also went through a series of tests to help determine their thinking and memory abilities at different times over the course of four years.
The study showed that health individuals that followed the Mediterranean diet the most closely were as much as 19 percent less likely to begin development of memory and thinking problems. The numbers did not vary significantly between races. However, the estimated 17 percent of participants that have diabetes were not as likely to see these results.
According to Dr. Tsivgoulis, the diet is one of the most valuable parts of life that can be changed to help people to preserve their ability to think and remember things clearly later in life. He also says, “However, it is only one of several important lifestyle activities that might play a role in late-life mental functioning. Exercise, avoiding obesity, not smoking cigarettes and taking medications for conditions like diabetes and hypertension are also important.”
For many who already enjoy a largely Mediterranean style diet and feel fabulous, this study may prove to be just more evidence in favor of their lifestyle choices. For those who are seeking a type of diet that they can live with, the benefits of the Mediterranean diet just seem to keep stacking up.