The type of diet is a decisive factor when it comes to developing diseases, and there is scientific evidence that shows that certain nutrients help prevent health problems, while others contribute to their appearance, as is the case with processed foods. A new study has now found that people who follow the Mediterranean diet o to the MIND diet – an eating pattern that combines features of the former and the DASH diet to combat hypertension – have fewer amyloid beta plaques and tau protein tangles in the brain, which are considered causes of high blood pressure Alzheimer disease.
In the Mediterranean diet, the consumption of foods such as vegetables, fruits, legumes and three or more servings of fish a week is prioritized, accompanied by whole grains and healthy fats such as extra virgin olive oil and within the scope of a lifestyle that includes the regular practice of physical exercise. As for the MIND diet, it recommends one or more servings of fish per week and prioritizes berries, such as blueberries, over other types of fruit. In both cases, it is considered appropriate to include small amounts of wine.
The findings have been published in Neurologythe journal of the American Association of Neurology, and although they show an association between the habitual consumption of these diets and a lower presence of plates and balls associated with the Alzheimer’sThey have not established a cause and effect relationship.
“These results are exciting: improvement in people’s diets in just one area, such as eating more than six servings of leafy green vegetables per week or don’t eat fried foodwas associated with fewer amyloid plaques in the brain similar to being about four years younger,” says Puja Agarwal, from RUSH University in Chicago and author of the study.
“Eating more leafy green vegetables is itself associated with fewer signs of Alzheimer’s disease in the brain.”
“Although our research does not prove that a healthy diet decreases brain deposits of amyloid plaques, also known as a sign of Alzheimer’s disease, we do know that there is a relationship and following the MIND and Mediterranean diets may be a way to improve brain health and protect cognition as people get older.
A younger brain associated with the type of diet
The research involved 581 people with an average age of 84 who had donated their brains for dementia studies and answered annual questionnaires reporting the amounts they consumed of foods classified into various categories. Death occurred an average of seven years after the start of the study and just prior to death 39% of these people had been diagnosed with dementia. Postmortem examination confirmed that 66% met the criteria for Alzheimer’s disease.
11 food categories were established for the Mediterranean diet, and a score from zero to 55 was assigned, the higher the scores being the greater the adherence to the diet based on these categories: whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, oil olive oil, fish and potatoes. The scores they received were lower if they ate red meat, poultry, and full-fat dairy products.
In the case of the MIND diet, there were 15 categories. Participants were assigned a score of zero to 15, with one point for each of 10 brain-healthy food groups, including leafy greens, other vegetables, nuts, berries, beans, whole grains, fish , birds, olive oil and wine. If they ate more than the recommended amount of five unhealthy food groups—such as red meat, butter and margarine, cheese, pastries and sweets, fried foods, and fast food—they lost one point.
Participants were divided into three groups for each diet and those in the tallest groups were compared to those in the shortest groups. People in the highest group on the Mediterranean diet had a mean score of 35, compared to those in the lowest group whose mean score was 26. For the MIND diet, the highest group had a mean score of nine and the lowest group bass had an average score of six.
During the autopsy, the researchers examined the brains for the amounts of beta amyloid and tau—which can also be found in the brains of older adults with normal cognition—and classified the quality of each individual’s diet according to the score obtained by their answers to the questionnaire. Then, they adjusted for factors that could influence such as age at death, gender, educational level, total caloric intake, and the presence of a gene associated with an increased risk of developing this type of dementia.
They found that people who scored highest for their adherence to the Mediterranean diet had average amounts of plaque and tangles in their brains. similar to being 18 years younger than those with the lowest score. They also found that people who scored highest for adhering to the MIND diet had average amounts of plaque and tangles. similar to being 12 years younger than those with the lowest score, while one point higher on the MIND diet score corresponded to the typical amounts of plaque for participants who were 4.25 years younger.
When they analyzed the individual components of the diet, the researchers found that individuals who consumed the more green leafy vegetables – seven or more servings per week – had corresponding amounts of plaque in the brain to be almost 19 years younger than people who ate fewer of these foods (one or fewer servings per week).
“Our finding that eating more leafy green vegetables is itself associated with fewer signs of Alzheimer’s disease in the brain is intriguing enough for people to consider adding more of these vegetables to their diet,” Agarwal said. adding that “future studies are needed to further establish our findings.”