Many studies have suggested that eating a healthy diet may reduce a person’s risk of dementia. Still, a new study has found that two diets, including the Mediterranean diet, are not associated with a reduced risk of dementia. Currently, Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology, is publishing the study online on October 12, 2022.
Healthy fats, including olive oil, legumes, fruits, and vegetables, are essential components of the Mediterranean diet, while dairy products, meat, and saturated fats are excluded.
Studies have had mixed results regarding diet and dementia risk in the past. Our study did not find a link between diet and dementia, which included younger participants than some other studies and didn’t require people to recall what foods they had eaten regularly years ago. Although we did not rule out a possible link between diet and dementia, we found no link in our study.
Over 20 years, researchers followed 28,000 people from Sweden with dementia. Participants had an average age of 58 at the beginning of the study and did not have dementia at the time. Participants were asked to complete a seven-day food diary, a detailed food frequency questionnaire, and an interview as part of the study. One thousand nine hundred forty-three people were diagnosed with dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia, by the end of the study.
The researchers examined how closely participants’ diets aligned with conventional dietary recommendations.
Researchers did not find a correlation between following a conventional or Mediterranean diet and a reduced risk of dementia after adjusting for age, gender, and education.
According to Glans, further research is needed to confirm the findings.
“Diet on its own may not be sufficient to affect memory and thinking, but is likely one factor among others that influences cognitive function,” said Nils Peters, MD, of the University of Basel in Switzerland, in an editorial accompanying the study. The control of risk factors will still require dietary strategies and other measures.”
The study had the limitation of participants misreporting their own dietary and lifestyle habits.
The Swedish Alzheimer Foundation, the Swedish Brain Foundation, and the Marianne and Marcus Wallenberg foundation funded the study at Lund University.