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Universiteit Leiden

Mediterranean diet can reduce risk on Alzheimer’s Disease

Mediterranean diet can reduce risk on Alzheimer’s Disease Fresh vegetables and fruits by MeiTeng

Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) is the most common neurodegenerative disorder in the world. It is a progressive disease which is characterized by the loss of synapses and dendrites in the cortex and hippocampus.

Alzheimer’s Disease is the number one neurodegenerative disorder in the world, it is partly caused by extracellular plaques (inflammations) and intracellular tangles (protein-tau aggregates). So far there is still no cure for Alzheimer’s Disease.

For years, research has been conducted into the cure for Alzheimer’s Disease. Many chemical molecules are classified as potential candidates, regretfully later in the research they are dropped because a negative outcome. What if we could possibly prevent Alzheimer with something available in our first necessity of life? Experts agree that AD probably develops as a result of complex interactions, among multiple factors including environment, genetics, age, medical conditions and lifestyle. Obvious factors like genetics cannot be changed to help reduce the risk. Other risk factors like high bloodpressure or even diet can be changed. Research in these areas may lead to new ways to detect those at highest risk. Scarmeas et al. have investigated whether a Mediterranean diet (MeDi) may lead to a lower risk of AD.

Epidemiological data on diet and AD have told us that higher intake of vitamin C, vitamin E, unsaturated fatty acids, fish, high levels of vitamin B12 and lower total fats have been related to a lower risk of AD or slower cognitive decline. The MeDi pattern has received increased attention because of interventional evidence relating to lower risk for cardiovascular disease. The MeDi is characterized by high intake of vegetables, fruits, fish and a low intake of meat. A total of 2256 individuals in New York were evaluated every 1,5 years. The adherence to the MeDi was the main predictor. There were 262 incident AD cases during the course of 4 years of follow up.  Higher adherence to the MeDi was associated with significantly lower risk for development of AD. The cohort with the highest adherence to the MeDi had 39-40% less risk for the development of AD and slower cognitive impairment

This research proves that we can (partly) take matters into our own hands to reduce the risk on this neurodegenerative disease. Of course there are other factors that would play a major role, however this is already a good way to start. Isn’t it remarkable that you can harm your body with bad nutrition pattern on one side, but that you also can prevent diseases with proper and healthy nutrition on the other side. So in broad sense one can say: ‘’We are what we eat’’.

 

This blog was written as an assignment for the course Pharmacology of Cognition, part of the minor Brain and Cognition. 

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