The Mediterranean Diet, and other health diets in general, have been shown to be associated with decreased cognitive decline as well as decreased risk of developing dementia.
A new review study, published in the journal Advances in Nutrition aimed to collect all the research (in the human model) through May 2014 related to diet, cognitive decline, and dementia, in order to get a better understanding of the relationship between diet and this kind of mental health.
6 cross-sectional, 12 longitudinal, 1 trial, and 3 meta-analysis studies related to diet and cognitive decline or dementia were evaluated for this review.
Stronger adherence to the Mediterranean diet was associated with significantly less cognitive decline and decreased incidence of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease across 14 of studies (out of 22) on the subject through May 2014.
Those studies not focused solely on the Mediterranean diet but other healthy diets in general also found significant associations between adherence to healthy eating and declines in cognitive dysfunction including decreased risk of dementia (found in all 6 cross-sectional studies and 6 of 8 longitudinal studies).
While results were not sweeping across the board, most of the studies included in this review agreed and showed that the
Mediterranean Diet, or otherwise healthy diet, decreased the risk of cognitive decline, dementia, or Alzheimer’s disease.
Despite this majority finding, more research needs to be done to get a better understand of the discrepancies in the other studies that did not find similar results, in case the results are something greater than simple population variability.
As we age and increase our risk for a variety of ailments and diseases, quality of life becomes very important to our overall well-being. Healthy diets have been shown to decrease the risk
and/or severity of many of these diseases, which begs the question “does a healthy diet result in an overall increase in quality of life as we age?”
A new study accepted into the journal Experimental Gerontology asked this very question and examined associations between diet and reported quality of life in older adults.
2457 (53% women) Australian adults between the ages of 55 and 65 participated in this study. Diet and quality of life were determined via a self-reported mail-in questionnaire.
Diet quality was scored based on the Dietary Guideline Index (DGI), recommended food score (RFS), and the Mediterranean diet score (MDS).
Quality of life was scored based on the RAND-36 test.
For men, higher DGI and RFS scores were associated with higher energy.
For men, higher DGI scores were associated with better overall health, both physical and mental.
For women, higher DGI and RFS scores were associated with better physical function, and better overall health.
For women, higher DGI, RFS, and MDS scores were associated with better emotional well-being and better energy.
The results of this study suggest that diet quality is positively associated with a better quality of life in older adults. Specifically, a better diet (and one that focuses on Mediterranean-style diet patterns) resulted in happier, more physically fit, and self-reported overall better health in older Australian adults.