The most recent study concerning the Mediterranean diet was published on Monday in the Jama Internal Medicine journal and was sponsored by the Spanish government. Researchers announced that an enhanced Mediterranean diet, including a health cocktail of olive oil and nuts may be responsible for better brain functioning.
The study was designed to test the previously circulated ideas that a Mediterranean diet is a natural repellant of dementia, Alzheimer and the degradation of cognitive functions. Considering that studies conducted before were observational, the current one brings us one step closer to understanding the benefits of a balanced, healthier diet on our aging brains.
The study was conducted thoroughly on a sample of 447 cognitively healthy participants, within the age group of 55 to 80 years-old. The researchers divided them in three groups. The first group was advised to maintain the Mediterranean diet for a period of little over 4 years, adding to their daily menu just four extra spoons of olive oil. The second group was advised to add a cocktail of 30 grams of nuts to their diet. While the third group constituted the control group and was advised to simply maintain a low-fat diet, without extra phenolic-rich supplements. All subjects were followed for four years.
The results speak for themselves. At the end of the trial, the first group exhibited significantly enhanced cognitive function. The second group exhibited considerable memory enhancement. For all age categories, these are great news. Consider the fact that the sound scientific practices enable our knowledge that a simple healthy diet can do wonders for the state of our body. Preemptive or not, the adoption of a healthier life-style and accordingly a healthier diet can uphold our bodies in great condition.
At the beginning of the study all participants underwent testing for cognitive functions. The second testing was done at the end of the study when only 75 percent of the people participated. It has been stated that dropouts were equally distributed among the three participating groups, thus the results were not tampered.
The Mediterranean diet emphasizes the intake of large amounts of vegetable and fruit, unrefined grains and beans, fish and wine. On the other hand, it strongly encourages people to keep the intake of meat or full-dairy products to a minimum. With such a name reminding of sunny coasts in Italy or Greece, its utility has been amply proved in medical studies before.
It has been so far stated that the adoption of a Mediterranean diet benefits cardiovascular health, is a trustworthy aid in combating some forms of cancer, as well as in preventing Alzheimer’s disease.
In this particular case were cognitive functions were targeted, researchers believe that antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents found in both olive oil and nuts are active agents to counteract oxidation processes in the brain. Phenolic compounds thus act as a barrier to neurodegeneration.
Keeping this in mind, remember to choose your fat intake wisely. Our brain is in fact 70 percent fat. So why not feed it the healthy supplements it needs, such as oleic acid that can easily become part of our diet provided we eat olive oil, nuts, and avocados. Omega-3 fatty acids are also a key to success. Add more fish, walnuts and quality soy foods and the recipe to success is guaranteed.
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