A single copy of this article may be reprinted for personal, noncommercial use only.
Alzheimer's: Can a Mediterranean diet lower my risk?By Mayo Clinic staff
Original Article: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/alzheimers-disease/AN02036
- With Mayo Clinic clinical neuropsychologist
Glenn Smith, Ph.D.read biographyclose window
Glenn Smith, Ph.D.Glenn Smith, Ph.D.
Dr. Glenn Smith is a board-certified clinical neuropsychologist who specializes in Alzheimer's disease.
Dr. Smith, a Lincoln, Neb., native, has been with Mayo Clinic since 1990 and works with neurologists, psychiatrists, internists, social workers and nurses involved in diagnosing and providing care for people with dementia and their families.
"For Alzheimer's disease, there is currently no cure," he says. "The best "medicine" for patient and family remains education and support. Hopefully, Mayo Clinic's Alzheimer's disease Web resources contribute to compassionate care and understanding for Alzheimer's families."
Dr. Smith is a professor of psychology at College of Medicine, Mayo Clinic, a division co-chair in the Department of Psychiatry and Psychology, and principal investigator of the Mayo Alzheimer's Disease Research Center Education and Information Transfer Core. He is past president of the American Board of Clinical Neuropsychology and the Clinical Neuropsychology Division of the American Psychological Association.
Risk factors (2)
- Alzheimer's: Can a head injury increase my risk?
- Oophorectomy (ovary removal): A risk factor for dementia?
- Sundowning: Late-day confusion
Tests and diagnosis (2)
- Rapidly progressing Alzheimer's: Something else?
- Alzheimer's test: Detection at the earliest stages
- Phantosmia: What causes olfactory hallucinations?
Treatments and drugs (3)
- Alzheimer's nose spray: New Alzheimer's treatment?
- Folic acid supplements: Can they slow cognitive decline?
- Vitamin B-12: Can it improve memory in Alzheimer's?
Lifestyle and home remedies (2)
- Music and Alzheimer's: Can it help?
- Alzheimer's: Can a Mediterranean diet lower my risk?
Alternative medicine (5)
- Huperzine A: Can it treat Alzheimer's?
- Axona: Medical food to treat Alzheimer's
- Phosphatidylserine supplements: Can they improve memory?
- see all in Alternative medicine
Coping and support (1)
- Elder care for Alzheimer's: Choosing a provider
- Alzheimer's prevention: Does it exist?
- Alzheimer's disease: Can exercise prevent memory loss?
- Benefits of being bilingual: Delay Alzheimer's?
Alzheimer's: Can a Mediterranean diet lower my risk?
Can a Mediterranean diet lower my risk of Alzheimer's?
from Glenn Smith, Ph.D.
You may know that a Mediterranean diet — rich in fruits, vegetables, olive oil, legumes, whole grains and fish — offers heart-healthy benefits. But a Mediterranean diet may also benefit your brain. Studies show that people who closely follow a Mediterranean diet seem less likely to develop cognitive decline when compared with people who don't follow the diet.
Research shows that a Mediterranean diet may:
- Slow cognitive decline in older adults
- Reduce the risk of mild cognitive impairment (MCI), a transitional stage between the cognitive decline of normal aging and the more-serious memory problems caused by dementia or Alzheimer's disease
- Reduce the risk of MCI progressing into Alzheimer's disease
It's unclear why following a Mediterranean diet may protect brain function. Researchers speculate that making healthy food choices may improve cholesterol and blood sugar levels and overall blood vessel health — all factors that may reduce the risk of MCI or Alzheimer's disease.
Studies of the effects of diet on dementia are dependent on the recall of the participants — problematic when some of those studied have memory troubles. More research is needed to know to what degree a Mediterranean diet prevents Alzheimer's or slows the progression of cognitive decline. Nonetheless, eating a healthy diet is important to stay physically and mentally fit.Next question
Huperzine A: Can it treat Alzheimer's?
- Scarmeas N, et al. Mediterranean diet and mild cognitive impairment. Archives of Neurology. 2009;66:216.
- Press D, et al. Prevention of dementia. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Nov.11, 2011.
- Feart C, et al. Adherence to a Mediterranean diet, cognitive decline, and risk of dementia. Journal of the American Medical Association. 2009;302:638.
- Gu Y, et al. Food combination and Alzheimer disease risk. Archives of Neurology. 2010;67:6.