Could a Mediterranean diet and regular exercise promote brain health?

Could a Mediterranean diet and regular exercise promote brain health?

The combined impact of a Mediterranean diet and walking on dementia and cognitive decline is now being researched. The Mediterranean diet and regular walking have each been linked to brain health, but this study aims to evaluate the combined impact of both. By the end of 2023, the study will be finished. The “MedWalk intervention” is being studied to see if it can lower the risk of dementias like Alzheimer’s dementia and cognitive decline in people. The abbreviation “MedWalk” stands both “Mediterranean diet” plus “walking.”

The benefits of a combined MedWalk intervention have been previously related to both a Mediterranean diet and walking, and this current study seeks to validate those associations. The COVID-19 epidemic caused an interruption to the research being done by scientists from Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom, but it is still underway. But the information regarding their procedures and current analysis has been made public by the authors in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

The Mediterranean diet and cognition

According to Medical News Today, research from 2014 and 2023 revealed that adhering to a Mediterranean diet was connected with reduced instances of dementia. Conner Middelmann, a licensed nutritionist with a focus on the Mediterranean diet who was not part in the present study, made this observation. Numerous studies, including ones conducted in 2015 and 2023, have linked a Mediterranean diet to a decreased risk of Alzheimer’s disease, the most prevalent type of dementia. Middelmann issued a warning, noting that “[w]hile these studies suggest a link between the Mediterranean diet and a reduced risk of dementia, it’s important to bear in mind that many factors can influence dementia risk, including genetics, lifestyle, and overall health.”

“Therefore, maintaining a healthy diet, such as the Mediterranean diet, is just one aspect of a comprehensive approach to brain health and dementia prevention,” she continued.
According to Middelmann, a Mediterranean diet may benefit brain health in a variety of ways because it is high in antioxidants that fight inflammation and oxidative stress, “which are thought to be significant contributors to cognitive decline and neurodegenerative diseases.” It includes omega-3 fatty acids, in particular the essential docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which has been associated to better cognitive function and a reduced risk of cognitive decline. The high fiber content of the Mediterranean diet may contribute to the balance of the gut microbiota. The diet discourages the intake of ultra-processed foods, which have been related to dementia, and is low in processed grains and sugars, which lowers the risk of insulin resistance and inflammation.

Finally, Middelmann said that other components of the Mediterranean diet that have been linked to brain health include eating meals with loved ones and friends and engaging in regular exercise.

How exercise can preserve mental health

In a similar vein, regular walking is linked to a slower rate of cognitive decline. A study conducted in 2022 discovered a dose-dependent connection between the quantity of steps walked and lowering the chance of dementia. According to that study, walking 10,000 steps each day cut the risk of dementia by 50%. An Australian and American study conducted in 2023 discovered a connection between walking pace and dementia, and a British Journal of Sports Medicine study from 2017 indicated that cardiovascular exercise, such as walking, can exacerbate cognitive decline.

“Walking may benefit the brain in a number of different ways. Depending on the amount, length, and frequency of walking, Ryan Glatt, a brain health coach at the Pacific Neuroscience Institute who was not involved in this study, stated that walking may enhance brain blood flow. Additionally, according to Glatt, it “benefits levels of brain activity, and may reduce feelings of overall stress while improving feelings of well-being.” According to Glatt, walking may also include social interaction and exposure to nature, both of which may be good for the brain. By the end of 2023, all data will have been collected for the current project.

Many diets have been suggested throughout the years as ways to stay healthy or lower the risk of particular diseases, but few of them have withstood serious scientific examination. The Mediterranean diet appears to be an exception, though. Studies are increasingly demonstrating that adopting this eating strategy has major advantages for one’s health. In addition to lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease, research has indicated that it may also improve cognition, lower the risk of diabetes, lower the risk of some malignancies, and lessen the symptoms of multiple sclerosis.

What is the Mediterranean diet?

The term “Mediterranean diet” refers to a broad range of diets that are inspired by the traditional eating patterns of those who reside near the Mediterranean Sea. High intake of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, and legumes; low-fat or fat-free dairy products; fish, poultry, non-tropical vegetable oils; and nuts; and limited consumption of sodium, highly processed foods, refined carbohydrates, saturated fats, and fatty or processed meats, according to the American Heart Association, which advises this type of diet for cardiovascular health. In addition to these suggestions, the Harvard School of Public Health emphasizes the value of healthy fats such olive oil, avocados, almonds, and oily fish.

It suggests limiting people’s consumption of red meat to just a few times a week while encouraging them to consume small amounts of chicken, eggs, and dairy products on a daily basis. Although people should mostly drink water, the typical Mediterranean diet allows for one or two small glasses of red wine each day. Researchers do note, however, that daily enjoyment-based physical activity should be combined with a nutritious diet.


For diet related medications that have been suggested by doctors worldwide are available here

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