Mediterranean diet could help beat dementia finds UCL study

Those with diabetes or psychiatric symptoms on top of mild cognitive impairment are much more likely to develop dementia

Francesca Washtell
Sunday 22 February 2015 17:57 GMT
Mediterranean diets that ward off diabetes could help beat dementia
Mediterranean diets that ward off diabetes could help beat dementia (Getty Images)

People who have diabetes and psychiatric symptoms in addition to mild cognitive impairment are significantly more likely to develop dementia, new research shows.

Mild cognitive impairment (MCI), a state between normal ageing and dementia, affects 19 per cent of people aged 65 and over.

Around 46 per cent of people with MCI go on to develop dementia within three years, compared with 3 per cent of the general population.

The study, led by researchers at UCL and published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, reviewed data from 62 separate studies following a total of 15,950 people diagnosed with MCI.

It found those with diabetes were 65 per cent more likely and those with psychiatric symptoms, such as depression, were twice as likely to develop dementia.

“Lifestyle changes to improve diet and mood might help people with MCI to avoid dementia, and bring many other health benefits,” said lead author Dr Claudia Cooper.

“This doesn’t necessarily mean that addressing diabetes, psychiatric symptoms and diet will reduce an individual’s risk, but our review provides the best evidence to date about what might help.”

It is well established that a Mediterranean diet rich in fruit, vegetables, oily fish, poultry and olive oil can help protect against Type 2 diabetes.

It is recommended by the Alzheimer’s Society charity to help prevent dementia, along with staying socially and physically active.

With a higher proportion of unsaturated to saturated fats and largely unprocessed foods it can help people with diabetes control their blood sugar levels.

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