Why Should You Follow A Mediterranean Diet to Prevent Cognitive Decline?

by | Diet & Well-Being |

Recently, articles promoting the Mediterranean diet to prevent cognitive decline have been making a bit of impact on the news in the UK

Earlier in the month, news outlets picked up on the story that the Mediterranean Diet is linked to preventing Alzheimer’s, based on a recent study carried out at Cornell Weill University.

This information is not new. In fact – it is further evidence to support the inclusion of a Mediterranean diet in the Bredesen Protocol, and the RECODE programme. Since the very first clinical trials, a Mediterranean diet has been an integral part of the treatment we offer for cognitive decline. 

However, the phrase ‘Mediterranean diet’ might mean a lot of different things to different people.

And it keeps changing – you may have spotted this dramatic news story recently:

With Greece, Italy, Spain and Cyprus showing the highest levels of childhood obesity in Europe, the Mediterranean diet is gone, according to World Health Organisation (WHO) chief João Breda. “Those who are close to the Mediterranean diet are the Swedish kids.” Niamh Michail

Reporter, Food Navigator

So for those seeking to optimise their diet against the development of Alzheimer’s or Dementia, what does it mean to follow a Mediterranean diet?

Here’s what we’ll look at:

 

  • Anti-Inflammatory Mediterranean Diet to Prevent Cognitive Decline
  • Low Glycemic Mediterranean Diet to Prevent Cognitive Decline
  • Summary: Top Foods and Recommendations from Team Cogmission

Anti-Inflammatory Mediterranean Diet to Prevent Cognitive Decline

What does it mean to follow an anti-inflammatory diet?

The first thing to understand? We’re still learning more about what kinds of foods are good for us.

Some foods, especially high sugar or high sodium, actually cause the body’s defence systems to start up.

This means that the white blood cells in the body recognise something you have eaten as a foreign substance. They start producing chemicals intent of getting rid of that substance as quickly as possible. Inflammation caused by food produces a similar reaction to when we are ill, or when we are injured. There is swelling, heat – all biological responses to remove this substance which the body doesn’t like.

It’s the body’s way of protecting itself, but if the body is having to do this for every other thing we’re eating? It starts to cause big problems very quickly!

Inflammation is linked to a whole host of health issues. An anti-inflammatory diet is an essential part of a treatment plan for Alzheimer’s and Dementia patients.

Foods to Try: Anti Inflammatory Mediterranean Diet to Prevent Cognitive Decline

(from Harvard Health List)

 

  • Tomatoes
  • Olive Oil
  • Green Leafy Vegetables
  • Nuts
  • Fatty Fish
  • Fruit (such as strawberries, blueberries, cherries and oranges)

Low-Glycemic Mediterranean Diet to Prevent Cognitive Decline

 

The Glycemic Index (GI) of a food refers to how quickly or slowly the body can break its carbohydrates down to simple sugars. 

In the simplest terms, a food with a high glycemic index is broken down by the body very quickly. This causes a spike in blood sugar.

Where blood sugar levels are concerned, keeping it low and level is always best. Spikes and dips require more energy for the body to deal with.

So why are low-GI foods better for preventing cognitive decline?

It’s difficult to say.

But they do help. Studies have shown that eating low GI meals increases cognitive activity in adults. In the Bredesen Program early studies, a low GI diet was recommended to help reduce insulin resistance. Other studies have connected Diabetes 2 and Alzheimer’s with insulin resistance

Insulin is created in the pancreas, but the body can struggle to make enough insulin to manage blood sugar levels if we are eating lots of highly processed carbohydrates. This includes foods such as white bread, pasta, and fizzy drinks. Insulin resistance means that the body’s cells are unable to effectively use insulin to break down carbohydrates. It causes a host of problems, from Diabetes 2 to cognitive decline.

An anti-inflammatory diet is an essential part of a treatment plan for Alzheimer’s and Dementia patients.

A Mediterranean diet to prevent cognitive decline would therefore include lots of low-GI foods.

At the moment, it can be quite difficult to self-monitor the GI level of your foods. Anything from the ingredients, to the way the food is prepared can affect the GI level. Generally, the longer food is cooked, the easier the sugars are digested, and the higher the GI level.

However, it’s great to be aware of how to choose low-GI foods as part of a Mediterranean diet to prevent cognitive decline.

Foods to Try: Low-GI Mediterranean Diet to Prevent Cognitive Decline

(from Healthline)

 

  • Sourdough, Rye or Multigrain Bread
  • Rolled Oats, Bircher Muesli, Bran Flakes
  • Apples, Strawberries, Apricots, Peaches, Plums, Pears, Kiwi
  • Carrots, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Celery, Tomatoes, Courgette
  • Starchy vegetables, such as sweet potato
  • Legumes, such as lentils, chickpeas, baked beans, butter beans, kidney beans

Summary

 

We hope this article has helped you to understand the science behind the diet choices you make, and why we recommend a Mediterranean-inspired diet to prevent cognitive decline. It is very important to reiterate, however, that personalised treatment plans are essential!

The reason for this?

Cognitive Decline affects everyone in a very different way.

Alzheimer’s disease was once considered as just one type of cognitive decline. However, recent research has shown that it actually consists of three subtypes.

The amount of diversity in the ways that cognitive decline can affect us, and how it should be treated, is staggering.

Detailed testing, and medical and nutrition advice, are key to coming up with a treatment plan which will make a difference.

If you’re based in the UK and you would like to find out more about personalised treatment plans for cognitive decline, including diet, medical, lifestyle and nutrition advice, then please just get in touch with us!

Or – if this post has raised questions specific to nutrition, then feel free to message with a question for our expert nutritionist, Jackie Forbes

We’ve popped a contact form at the bottom – so just get in touch!

Get In Touch

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Phone: 0131 272 2743

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