The last of the baby boomers are now moving closer to 60 years old. If they’re like me, they’ve probably started thinking about retirement and what their life might look like as they head into their 60s, 70s, 80s and beyond. This time of life can be really enjoyable, with more time to spend with family and friends or to pick up old hobbies again. You don’t want any major health issues interfering with your plans for the future, if you can help it.
One of the major health issues we think of as we age is dementia and particularly Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Alzheimer’s disease accounts for around 70% of the current 459,000 Australians diagnosed with dementia. The good news is that there’s a lot of research showing that your risk of Alzheimer’s disease can be reduced by up to 60% by adopting a Mediterranean-style diet!
What Does the Science Say?
Studies using a Mediterranean-diet scoring system found that for every unit increase in score, there was a 9% reduction in risk of Alzheimer’s disease based on cognitive function testing. These studies also found that for each extra fish serving per week, there was a 9.8% reduction in the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
Research also found that biomarkers of Alzheimer’s disease were reduced with adherence to a Mediterranean-style diet. Beta-amyloid deposits, which have been linked to Alzheimer’s disease, were found to be much higher in people with low Mediterranean-diet scores. Brain volume was also found to be reduced in subjects who had low Mediterranean-diet scores.
What Is the Mediterranean Diet?
Making a few simple dietary changes can make a big difference in reducing your risk of Alzheimer’s disease. The Mediterranean diet isn’t a set-in-stone set of instructions on what you should eat each day. It’s really about a long-term change, moving toward a diet that is:
- High in vegetables, legumes and fruit
- High in grains and cereals
- High in monounsaturated fat (olive oil) and low in saturated fat
- Has a moderate amount of fish, poultry and low-fat dairy
- Can include a moderate intake of alcohol (usually red wine)
- Is low in red meat
- And low in sugary sweets
The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners has an easy-to-follow fact sheet that will help get you started.