The Mediterranean Diet Could Help With Your Memory

Family preparing a Mediterranean themed dinnerA clinical study that was conducted at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) suggests that following the Mediterranean diet could be linked to maintaining better memory and critical thinking skills. The Mediterranean diet is built on the consumption of more foods like fish and chicken, which are solid sources of omega-3 fatty acids, and avoiding other meats and dairy products that contain too much saturated fat. In some ways, this type of diet does share some similarities with the paleo diet.

This Diet Doesn’t Produce the Same Results for Diabetics

Unfortunately, the UAB research team that was working on this study did not find the same results when people living with diabetes started following this diet. At this time, they can only speculate as to why this would be the case, at least until more research is conducted on the matter. However, this data that was collected from this Birmingham clinical trial will be published in the latest issue of Neurology, a medical journal sent out by the American Academy of Neurology.

“Since there are no definitive treatments for most dementing illnesses, modifiable activities, such as diet, that may delay the onset of symptoms of dementia, are very important,” stated Dr. Georgios Tsivgoulis, a practicing neurologist who works with UAB and the University of Athens, Greece.

Pulling Data from the REGARDS Study

Interestingly, the data that was used for this study actually came from a different research project that has been taking place at the University. Clinical investigators obtained their data from the Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke (REGARDS) which started enrolling participants between the ages of 45 and 75 in 2003. As of today, this study continues to follow 30,239 different people and monitor them for any alterations in their health.

To date, this is the largest clinical study to be conducted on the Mediterranean diet, and it was certainly not easy to complete. The UAB team was tasked with collecting dietary information from nearly 18,000 African-Americans and Caucasians with an average age of 64. Then they had to carefully review all of this information in order to determine how well these participants were able to adhere to their diet. All of the participants also had to undergo certain tests which helped to measure their thinking and memory skills over the course of fours years on average. Only 17 percent of these study subjects had been diagnosed with diabetes.

Healthy People Should Consider the Mediterranean Diet

As a result of this Birmingham clinical study, researchers have discovered that the Mediterranean diet could be quite beneficial for preserving memory ability in healthy people. Additionally, there did not seem to be any significant difference between the declines in Caucasians and African Americans. However, the Mediterranean diet did not seem to produce similar benefits in the preservation of memory skills in people who already had diabetes.

“Diet is an important modifiable activity that could help in preserving cognitive functioning in late life,” suggests Tsivgoulis. “However, it is only one of several important lifestyle activities that might play a role in late-life mental functioning. Exercise, avoiding obesity, not smoking cigarettes and taking medications for conditions like diabetes and hypertension are also important.”



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