Share This Page

Support & Insight for the Autumn of Life

Mediterranean Diet Helps Preserve Cognitive Function

Researchers at the National Eye Institute say two new studies show diet plays a major role in slowing cognitive decline – and adherence to the Mediterranean Diet (vegetables, whole grains, fish and olive oil) correlates with higher cognitive function. Learn more.


According to a recent analysis of data from two major eye disease studies, adherence to the Mediterranean diet – high in vegetables, whole grains, fish, and olive oil – correlates with higher cognitive function. Dietary factors also seem to play a role in slowing cognitive decline.

Researchers at the National Eye Institute (NEI), part of the National Institutes of Health, led the analysis of data from the Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) and AREDS2. They published their results in Alzheimer’s and Dementia: the Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association.

“We do not always pay attention to our diets. We need to explore how nutrition affects the brain and the eye” said Emily Chew, M.D., director of the NEI Division of Epidemiology and Clinical Applications and lead author of the studies.

9 Elements of Diet Checked

The researchers examined the effects of nine components of the Mediterranean diet on cognition. The diet emphasizes consumption of whole fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, legumes, fish, and olive oil, as well as reduced consumption of red meat and alcohol.

AREDS and AREDS2 assessed over years the effect of vitamins on age-related macular degeneration (AMD), which damages the light-sensitive retina. AREDS included about 4,000 participants with and without AMD, and AREDS2 included about 4,000 participants with AMD. The researchers assessed AREDS and AREDS2 participants for diet at the start of the studies.

The AREDS study tested participants’ cognitive function at five years, while AREDS2 tested cognitive function in participants at baseline and again two, four, and 10 years later.

The researchers used standardized tests based on the Modified Mini-Mental State Examination to evaluate cognitive function as well as other tests. They assessed diet with a questionnaire that asked participants their average consumption of each Mediterranean diet component over the previous year.

Sticking to Diet = Lowest Risk of Decline

Participants with the greatest adherence to the Mediterranean diet had the lowest risk of cognitive impairment. High fish and vegetable consumption appeared to have the greatest protective effect. At 10 years, AREDS2 participants with the highest fish consumption had the slowest rate of cognitive decline.

The numerical differences in cognitive function scores between participants with the highest versus lowest adherence to a Mediterranean diet were relatively small, meaning that individuals likely won’t see a difference in daily function. But at a population level, the effects clearly show that cognition and neural health depend on diet.

The researchers also found that participants with the ApoE gene, which puts them at high risk for Alzheimer’s disease, on average had lower cognitive function scores and greater decline than those without the gene. The benefits of close adherence to a Mediterranean diet were similar for people with and without the ApoE gene, meaning that the effects of diet on cognition are independent of genetic risk for Alzheimer’s disease.

MORE INFORMATION:

The AREDS and AREDS2 studies were supported by the NEI Intramural Research Program and contracts NOI-EY-0-2127 (AREDS), HHS-N-260-2005-00007-C (AREDS2), and N01-EY-5-0007 (AREDS2). Additional research funds were provided by the NIH Office of Dietary Supplements, the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, the National Institute on Aging, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. The AREDS trial is registered at www.ClinicalTrials.gov as NCT00594672. AREDS2 is registered as NCT00345176. The studies took place at the NIH Clinical Center.

NEI leads the federal government’s research on the visual system and eye diseases. NEI supports basic and clinical science programs to develop sight-saving treatments and address special needs of people with vision loss. For more information, visit https://www.nei.nih.gov.

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation’s medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.

SOURCE:

REFERENCE:

  • Keenan TD, Agron E, Mares J, Clemons TE, van Asten F, Swaroop A, and Chew E, for the AREDS and AREDS2 research groups. “Adherence to a Mediterranean diet and cognitive function in the Age-Related Eye Disease Studies 1 & 2.” April 14, 2020. Alzheimer’s and Dementia.
Email me when people comment
Notify of
guest

0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Edited by:
Picture of P. Berger

P. Berger

This site was inspired by my Mom’s autoimmune dementia.

It is a place where we separate out the wheat from the chafe, the important articles & videos from each week’s river of news. Google gets a new post on Alzheimer’s or dementia every 7 minutes. That can overwhelm anyone looking for help. This site filters out, focuses on and offers only the best information. it has helped hundreds of thousands of people since it debuted in 2007. Thanks to our many subscribers for your supportive feedback.

The site is dedicated to all those preserving the dignity of the community of people living with dementia.

Peter Berger, Editor

Share this page To

Related:

Coconut Oil

Coconut Fish Curry

RECIPE: “Brain foods” are neuroprotective, fighting Alzheimer’s by lowering risk and helping to resist cognitive decline. This flavorful dish combines 4 of the best “brain foods”: fish, coconut oil, curry and fenugreek. Enjoy its Indian flair.

Read More »
At Home

14 Ways to Prevent Falling at Home

EMERGENCIES due to falling happen 54% more often in dementia. As a rule, 1-in-3 adults over 65 fall each year. Most falls happen at home. Make a few simple changes and prevent falls.

Read More »
Share to Facebook
Twitter
LinkedIn

This site was inspired by my Mom’s autoimmune dementia.

It is a place where we separate out the wheat from the chafe, the important articles & videos from each week’s river of news. Google gets a new post on Alzheimer’s or dementia every 7 minutes. That can overwhelm anyone looking for help. This site filters out, focuses on and offers only the best information. it has helped hundreds of thousands of people since it debuted in 2007. Thanks to our many subscribers for your supportive feedback.

The site is dedicated to all those preserving the dignity of the community of people living with dementia.

Peter Berger, Editor

Visit Alzheimer's Weekly On

0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x
News, Treatments, Care Tips, Diet

Alzheimer's & Dementia Weekly Newsletter: Free

Free. Care & Treatment. Research & Prevention

This site was inspired by my Mom’s autoimmune dementia.

It is a place where we separate out the wheat from the chafe, the important articles & videos from each week’s river of news. Google gets a new post on Alzheimer’s or dementia every 7 minutes. That can overwhelm anyone looking for help. This site filters out, focuses on and offers only the best information. It has helped hundreds of thousands of people since it debuted in 2007. Thanks to our many subscribers for your supportive feedback.

The site is dedicated to all those preserving the dignity of the community of people living with dementia.

Peter Berger, Editor

News to Get at the Truth

Subscribe To Our Weekly Newsletter