Ageing is inevitable, but just as there are many ways to keep your body in tip-top shape as you get older, your brain can benefit from some special treatment, too.
Alzheimer’s disease impacts more than 44 million people around the world and is the most common form of dementia. While there is currently no cure, new research has found following a Mediterranean diet could delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease by years.
The research, conducted by Edith Cowan University (ECU), in Western Australia, and published in the Translational Psychiatry journal, found that people who follow a Mediterranean diet have significantly slower rates of Amyloid beta (Aβ) accumulation in their brain. The build-up of Aβ is linked with the development of Alzheimer’s.
The Mediterranean diet is typically high in fruits, vegetables, legumes, fish and cereals, with less intake of dairy, meat, sugar and saturated fat.
While previous studies have found that the diet can slow cognitive decline, this is the first time it has been shown to slow the build-up of Aβ in the brains of people at risk of developing the disease.
And it turns out you don’t have to be a lifelong adherent of the diet to get the benefits — following the diet for just three years reduces the build-up of Aβ by up to 60 per cent.
Researchers are now hopeful that the Mediterranean diet could be a safe and effective way of reducing the impacts of Alzheimer’s disease.
“This tells us that eating a Mediterranean diet could potentially delay the onset of symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease by years,” Lead researcher Stephanie Rainey-Smith said. “So by following a Mediterranean diet, people at risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease could buy themselves a few more years with their loved ones before the onset of this terrible affliction.”
While all of the aspects of the diet appear to be important for reducing Alzheimer’s risk, in the study, fruit consumption provided the greatest benefit, Rainey-Smith explained. However, she still urged people to follow the full diet, rather than just consuming the fruit, in order to gain the most benefit.
It follows other research released last month that found a new eye scan may be able to detect early Alzheimer’s disease.
Early detection is key in managing the condition and delaying symptoms for as long as possible and the results of two studies presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology showed that an eye scan from a new imaging device may be an easy and non-invasive way of detecting Alzheimer’s in patients within seconds.
Researchers explained the small blood vessels in the retina at the back of the eye are altered in patients with Alzheimer’s – even in patients with a family history of the disease without any visible symptoms.