Mediterranean Diet and Alzheimer’s Disease.




Annals of Neurology

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Alzheimer's is a debilitating disease that causes severe degeneration of brain tissue. Plaque deposits accumulate in the spaces between brain cells. The cells themselves form twisted, spaghetti-like masses called "neurofibrillary tangles." Why these changes happen in the brains of some people but not others remains a matter of speculation. Scientists are unsure as to which of these abnormalities occurs first, the plaque or the tangles. What triggers them in the first place is not known for certain.

In its beginning stages, Alzheimer's can be a difficult disease to spot; the changes in memory and behavior are barely noticeable at first. The disease may worsen within the first several years or take as long as twenty to progress. Average survival time after diagnosis is generally four to eight years. Memory loss gradually worsens, along with a decline in ability to perform routine daily tasks. Late stage Alzheimer's sufferers experience increasing disorientation, impaired judgment, personality changes, difficulty in learning, and a loss of language skills. As yet, there is no cure for Alzheimer's disease.

A recent study examined the Mediterranean Diet (MD) and risk of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). MD has been associated with a lower risk of some cancers, cardiovascular disease and overall mortality. This study consisted of over 2,200 participants who were evaluated about every 1.5 years. The authors recorded adherence to the MD using a scale, 0 being the lowest and 9 being the highest adherence. Within 4 years of follow-up, there were 262 cases of AD reported. After adjusting for many factors, the results showed that a higher adherence to the MD was associated with a lower risk of AD. The authors concluded that, “higher adherence to the MeDi is associated with a reduction in risk for AD.”1


1. Scarmeas N, et al. Mediterranean diet and risk for Alzheimer's disease. Ann Neurol. Apr 2006;Early publish.