Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Maintain Memory With The Mediterranean Diet

The Mediterranean Diet is frequently in the news. It seems to be one of the best diets to follow because the evidence strongly suggests that it has many health benefits. These benefits include keeping the heart healthy, improving cognitive abilities and reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes, obesity and some types of cancer. New evidence supports the idea that the diet can also preserve memory.

The Mediterranean Diet is one that has traditionally been followed by people living around the Mediterranean Sea. It's based on the foods eaten by most people living in Greece, Southern Italy and Crete around 1960. Data collected from this time suggests that in general people who followed the diet lived long and healthy lives. The people usually performed plenty of physical exercise in addition to following a healthy diet.

The main components of the Mediterranean Diet are grains, vegetables, legumes or pulses, fruits, nuts, seeds, herbs and spices, olive oil, fish containing omega-3 fatty acids and seafood. Poultry, eggs and dairy are eaten less often and other meats and sweet desserts are eaten only occasionally. A moderate amount of red wine is drunk.
Hazelnuts are high in healthy monounsaturated fats.
Photo by Fir0002 at Wikimedia Commons,
CC BY-SA 3.0 License

Of course, some people following the diet today apply their own individual variations and emphasize different components of the diet. Nutritionists recommend that any grains in our diet should be whole grains and also recommend that people perform regular exercise and avoid smoking in addition to following a Mediterranean diet.

Researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham have just reported some results obtained from a study involving 17,478 people with an average age of 64. The study began in 2003 and is ongoing. Over a period of four years, the researchers gave people tasks designed to measure their thinking ability and memory skills. They found that people who followed the Mediterranean diet closely were 19% less likely to develop thinking and memory problems than other people in the survey. However, this benefit wasn't observed in people with diabetes.

This isn't the first study to link a healthy diet with preserving or even improving memory.
Following the Mediterranean diet or a diet that closely resembles it sounds like an excellent idea! It seems wise to combine the diet with physical activity and a healthy lifestyle, though.