Rejuvenating, reducing the risk of getting sick even against genetic mutations that we can present and having a brain as if we were 20 years younger, all of this is possible with nutrition. What has been said is demonstrated by three very recent and very interesting scientific studies, which we are talking about today.
The Mediterranean diet fights dementia
The first research was published in the journal BMC Medicine by a team from Newcastle University (Shannon et al, BMC Medicine, March 2023). The research is one of the largest in the sector and clearly demonstrates that high adherence to the Mediterranean diet reduces the risk of developing dementia by 23% compared to those who deviate from this type of diet. Scientists analyzed data on nutrition and health status of 60,298 people. All the volunteers were followed up for ten years and all of them were known if they had any genetic mutations that could increase their risk of developing dementia. Well, as anticipated, those who had followed the Mediterranean diet as much as possible over the years had a lower risk of getting sick. It is noteworthy that this reduction in risk was also observed in those with genetic alterations, which instead could increase the risk of developing dementia.
The Mediterranean diet rejuvenates the brain
The second study was published in the prestigious journal Neurology by an American team from the Rush Alzheimer's Disease Center (Agarwal et al, Neurology, March 2023). The researchers recruited 581 people, average age 84 years. Volunteers were asked to complete nutrition questionnaires annually. Brain tests made possible to analyze the presence of aggregates of amyloid beta and tau proteins, which are a hallmark of Alzheimer's disease but can still appear in the brains of even healthy older people. Indeed, to develop Alzheimer's, both the toxic aggregates of amyloid beta and tau proteins and inflammation must be present. What emerged was that those who complied with the guidelines of the Mediterranean Diet had, as regards the levels of beta amyloid and tau protein aggregates, a brain 18 years younger than those who instead detached themselves from this diet. Each additional point of adherence to the diet, which means every time a food considered protective is introduced into one's diet, such as green leafy vegetables, nuts, whole grains, fish, extra virgin olive oil and legumes, has led to a rejuvenation of 4.25 years. In particular, green leafy vegetables were found to be the most protective. In fact, if consumed every day, these vegetables have led to a brain rejuvenation of 19 years. Even the Mind Diet has been shown to protect the brain, even if "only" by 12 years. The Mind diet is similar to the Mediterranean diet although it has some differences. In fact, it provides for a lower consumption of fish, one portion a week against the three of the Mediterranean diet, but includes the consumption of berries, not included in the Mediterranean diet.
The Mediterranean diet reduces the risk of prostate cancer
The third research was published in the journal Cancers by a group of Australian scientists from the University of South Australia (Dhillon et al, Cancers, Dec 2022). Scientists have shown that those who follow the Mediterranean diet have a lower probability of getting prostate cancer and, even if this does happen, they have a greater ability to recover. In particular, a powerful protective action was found to be attributable to foods rich in lycopene, such as tomatoes, melons, papayas, grapes, peaches, watermelon and cranberries. Do not forget the foods that provide selenium, such as poultry, fish, shellfish, eggs and dried fruit, and vitamin E, such as nuts, oilseeds, some fruits and vegetables, such as avocado, chicory and blackberries.
The research we talked about today shows that even genetics can be counteracted thanks to lifestyle and food choices. In particular, the Mediterranean Diet has proved to be the best when it comes to counteracting cellular degeneration and neurodegeneration, even being capable of rejuvenating our brain. The Mediterranean diet is based on guidelines that provide for a high intake of vegetables, especially green leafy vegetables, but also fruit and whole grains. Then come the extra virgin oilve oil, to be used to season food, but also garlic, onion, spices and aromatic herbs, better if used instead of salt, and dried fruit. These foods just mentioned should be eaten every day. Then, the Mediterranean diet includes at least two portions per week of legumes and fish, two to four servings of eggs and less than two servings of poultry. Red meat should be consumed sparingly, as well as processed meats and sweets, less than one portion a week.