Brain Dementia: The Mediterranean Diet – Presse santé

A recent study shows that stroke survivors who follow a Mediterranean-style diet have faster brain repair and are less likely to experience cognitive problems in later years. For the general population, this type of diet protects and stimulates the brain.

  • The Mediterranean diet protects against dementia
  • Better cognition and memory
  • Mediterranean diet: a brain 7 years younger
  • Cerebrovascular accidents (CVAs) are caused by a sudden interruption of blood circulation to the brain following the blockage (ischemic accidents) or the rupture of a vessel (hemorrhagic accidents) which irrigates the brain cells. These events are very dangerous, because a constant supply of blood is absolutely essential to allow neurons to receive the oxygen and nutrients on which their functioning depends.

    If the region of the brain affected by the deficiency is essential for a basic physiological function, the consequences are fateful and the person can quickly die; when the blockage affects other brain regions less essential for survival, those affected can survive, but often at the cost of a significant loss of certain basic functions (speech, mobility).

    Another serious side effect of stroke is the significant (twice) increased risk of cognitive problems and dementia, with some studies showing that up to 20% of those affected by these strokes develop dementia within 10 years that follow.

    These dementias are the result of irreversible damage to neurons: it is estimated that for each hour following an untreated stroke, brain damage is equivalent to about 4 years of normal aging. When it comes to stroke treatment, the mantra is therefore “time is brain” and it is important to react very quickly when you feel the characteristic symptoms: sagging face, slurred speech, inability to perform simple movements such as raising your arms.

    The Mediterranean diet protects against dementia

    Results presented at the last International Stroke Conference held in Los Angeles last January suggest that a “MIND” type diet (Mediterranean-DASH Intervention of Neurodegenerative Delay) could attenuate this deterioration of cognitive functions following a stroke. . This diet is essentially of the Mediterranean type, that is to say that it uses olive oil as the main fat and favors a high intake of vegetables (fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole cereals) while avoiding as much foods high in saturated and trans fats (especially junk food) as possible.

    What sets the MIND (Mediterranean diet) diet apart, however, is its particular emphasis on eating certain specific foods known to improve brain health, such as leafy green vegetables, nuts, berries such as blueberries and strawberries, and fish.

    The combination of these foods exerts positive effects on brain health, as a clinical study in 923 healthy retired volunteers showed that those who adhered most strongly to the MIND diet were 53% less likely to be affected by dementia in the following 5 years.

    Better cognition and memory

    The results presented at the congress suggest that the positive effect of the MIND diet on brain health is also seen in people who have had a stroke. By analyzing the dietary habits of 106 stroke survivors (average age 83), Dr. Laurel Cherian’s team observed that those whose diet was closest to the MIND diet had much better scores at different cognitive tests, especially those measuring global cognition and memory.

    Mediterranean diet: a brain 7 years younger

    These benefits could even be even more pronounced than in the general population: in healthy people, the improvement in cognitive functions by adherence to the MIND diet corresponds to that of a brain that would be 7 years younger. In stroke survivors, this “rejuvenation” is even more pronounced, as if the brains of people who adhere to this diet are 20 years younger than those of people who eat differently.

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    People affected by a stroke therefore have every advantage in adopting a Mediterranean-type diet to preserve their cognitive functions, an essential element for maintaining a good quality of life.


    Cherian LJ et al. Dietary patterns associated with slower cognitive decline post stroke. stroke. 2018;49:A152.

    Morris MC et al. MIND diet associated with reduced incidence of Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimers Dement. 2015;11:1007-14.

    Read also: Olive oil and red wine to gain 10 years of life expectancy


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