The Mediterranean Diet includes fresh fish, vegetables, herbs, and fruits

Eat Mediterranean to benefit your brain

As many of you know the Mediterranean diet is one of the eating plans I strongly believe in. The foods included are lots of whole vegetables and fruits, beans and other legumes, older grains such as spelt, farro, and wheat, that have been less subject to modern hybridization. A new study shows that it may benefit the brain and nervous system as well, making it ideal for those with PD.

Mediterranean diet includes fresh fish
Mediterranean diet includes fresh fish

Public Release: 9-Aug-2016
Eat Mediterranean: Your brain will reap the benefit

Eating a Mediterranean diet can slow down cognitive decline

The Mediterranean diet can improve your mind, as well your heart, shows a study published in the open-access journal Frontiers in Nutrition.

Following a Mediterranean diet was shown to be associated with slower rates of cognitive decline, reduced conversion to Alzheimer’s, and improvements in cognitive function.

The main foods in the Mediterranean diet (MedDiet) include 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 meat, and uses olive oil as its major source of fat.

Greek salad with feta cheese, olives, vegetables
Greek salad with feta cheese, olives, vegetables

Leading author Roy Hardman from the Centre for Human Psychopharmacology, Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne Australia and his colleagues evaluated all the available papers between 2000-2015 that investigated if and how a MedDiet may impact cognitive processes over time. In total, 18 out of the 135 articles met their strict inclusion criteria.

“The most surprising result was that the positive effects were found in countries around the whole world. So regardless of being located outside of what is considered the Mediterranean region, the positive cognitive effects of a higher adherence to a MedDiet were similar in all evaluated papers;” he said.

Attention, memory, and language improved. Memory, in particular, was positively affected by the MedDiet including improvements in: delayed recognition, long-term, and working memory, executive function, and visual constructs.

“Why is a higher adherence to the MedDiet related to slowing down the rate of cognitive decline? The MedDiet offers the opportunity to change some of the modifiable risk factors,” he explained.

“These include reducing inflammatory responses, increasing micronutrients, improving vitamin and mineral imbalances, changing lipid profiles by using olive oils as the main source of dietary fats, maintaining weight and potentially reducing obesity, improving polyphenols in the blood, improving cellular energy metabolism and maybe changing the gut micro-biota, although this has not been examined to a larger extent yet.”

Moreover, the benefits to cognition afforded by the MedDiet were not exclusive to older individuals. Two of the included studies focused on younger adults and they both found improvements in cognition using computerized assessments.

The researchers stress that research in this area is important due to the expected extensive population aging over the next 20-30 years. They envision that the utilization of a dietary pattern, such as the MedDiet, will be an essential tool to maintain quality of life and reduce the potential social and economic burdens of manifested cognitive declines like dementia.

“I would therefore recommend people to try to adhere or switch to a MedDiet, even at an older age,” Hardman added.

Comments 3

  1. Sue Trupin R.N.
    September 7, 2016

    Can someone address the tyramine content of feta and goat cheese, please? Dr. Holden’s article for Vanderbilt University was the most coherent of all I’ve read on this topic, i.e..avoiding foods rich in tyramines.

    1. khadmin
      September 7, 2016

      Thank you for your kind words, the tyramine booklet was the hardest thing I’ve ever written, including my grad thesis! There is very little in the way of published research on tyramine-containing foods. I found very little published work on feta or goat cheese, so can only speculate. Feta may be used within 3 weeks, but also may be aged for long-term storage. I would therefore consider it to be “aged cheese” and to be avoided. As to goat cheese, there are many goat cheeses. Chevre is a fresh cheese and may be safe, although, again, I find no studies on this and therefore cannot recommend it; Crottin is aged at least several weeks, and would have to be considered an aged cheese. Goat Cheddar, Gouda and Brie should be considered aged cheeses, the same as those from cow’s milk. I hope this is helpful; I know (so well) how frustrating tyramine research can be.

Write a comment