A low sugar, high-nutrient Mediterranean diet can help people maintain brain health.
There are a plethora of different diets that have entered the market throughout the years claiming to be optimal for weight loss and minimizing health ailments. Some are backed by science – others, not so much. However, there’s one diet that has been around for some time and has gained popularity as of late. Researchers are suggesting that the infamous Mediterranean diet may be beneficial for a variety of health conditions, including heart disease and dementia.
The Mediterranean diet is fairly simple. It’s one that emphasizes whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and legumes – all foods known to be healthy and relatively easy to access. It also includes moderate amounts of seafood, poultry, dairy products – such as yogurt – and monounsaturated fats like olive oil. The same diet also encourages the consumption of small amounts of red wine – usually no more than one or two glasses per day – as a part of meals. Of course, water is the preferred beverage.
The Mediterranean diet has long been linked to numerous health benefits over the years. Research has found that this dietary pattern may reduce the risk of stroke, heart disease, and certain types of cancer. Additionally, people who follow a Mediterranean diet may also have a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes. One study, conducted in 2018 in Spain using 7447 participants (55 to 80 years of age, 57% women), found those assigned to an energy-unrestricted Mediterranean diet, supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil or nuts, had a lower rate of major cardiovascular disease.
New evidence suggests that this diet may help reduce the risk of cognitive decline and dementia. Studies have shown, specifically, that people who follow a Mediterranean diet have higher scores on cognitive tests than those who do not. Not only that but following a Mediterranean diet may also help improve overall well-being by reducing levels of chronic inflammation, particularly inflammation in the brain that may lead to impaired cognition.
The premise behind why the Mediterranean diet is so successful is that it’s rich in nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. By following the diet closely, it’s possible to consume high amounts of dietary fiber, good fats, vitamin C, potassium, B vitamins, choline, and vitamin D. These essential nutrients can improve health throughout many organ and tissue systems better than if a person were to take supplements alone. Also, by reducing processed foods and sugary treats, and replacing them with healthy fats and fresh produce, it’s possible to lower inflammation and reduce the risk of certain health conditions.
The diet contrasts a typical “American diet” of foods high in GMOs or artificial ingredients, like high fructose corn syrup, preservatives and flavor enhancers. Instead of artificial sweeteners or pure sugar, the diet emphasizes homemade desserts made with healthier replacements like honey.
Overall, the Mediterranean diet has been linked to numerous health benefits, such as reducing the risk of stroke and heart disease, certain types of cancer, cognitive decline, and dementia. This diet is also packed with essential vitamins and minerals that can improve overall health.
It’s important to note that this is not a quick fix for any health problems – rather, it’s meant to serve as a long-term dietary pattern that can improve overall well-being. The changes won’t happen overnight and, if the diet isn’t followed long-term, the adverse events it’s meant to counter can still occur.