Denver Home Care Blog

How the Mediterranean Diet Positively Affects Cognitive Performance

Elder care professionals encourage seniors to make healthy lifestyle choices that promote brain health and cognitive wellness

Whether you’re a senior yourself, or you have a senior at home, one is for sure – as the time goes by, you are more and more worried about the cognitive decline. Keeping your brain sharp is important for your overall health and wellness. Similar to physical health, that is supported by a healthy diet and regular exercise, our brains require a special regimen to “stay in shape.”

While some memory illnesses are genetic, and often times unavoidable, there are steps senior adults can take to reduce the risk of dementia or promote healthier brains as we age.

Researchers from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland studied a thousand seniors over the period of three years. According to their study, a Mediterranean Diet has been linked with slowing down cognitive decline in seniors. Let’s find out more.

A Mediterranean Diet Decreases Brain Volume Loss

967 seniors participated in the study focused on the impact of diet on brain health, specifically cognitive decline in seniors. The participants were aged between 73 and 76, and they didn’t have dementia.

When the study began, participants filled out a questionnaire about their dietary habits and went through an MRI scan. That way, researchers could determine participants’ overall brain volume, the thickness of the cortex, as well as grey matter volume. Neuroscientists have been able to study the brain at increasingly accurate rates, giving scientists more tools than ever to understand how our brains function, what a healthy brain looks like, and how to identify deterioration.

Three years later, participants went through another MRI scan. When researchers compared the results of the two MRI scans, they discovered that a regular participant lost 1% of the brain’s volume while a participant who ate a Mediterranean diet lost only 0.5% of their brain volume.

Brain volume is important because it shows that new, healthy cells are being created. This means that the brain is able to function properly, sending your body the signals it needs to make decisions, perform daily tasks, and remember previous events. When brain volume is lost, it shows that the brain is shrinking and typically results in memory loss, difficulty speaking, and challenges with problem-solving and decision making.

A Mediterranean Diet is Easy to Implement

The best thing about this diet is that it’s easy to follow. Let’s take a look at its breakdown:

  • Vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes, and whole grains are consumed in high amounts
  • Red meat and sugary foods are consumed in low amounts
  • Fish, seafood, and dairy is taken in moderate amounts
  • Use spices and herbs instead of salt
  • Use olive oil as a substitute for butter whenever you can

What else is the Mediterranean Diet good for?

This type of a diet is great for those dedicated to elder care. Besides reducing cognitive decline, this diet also helps in maintaining overall cardiovascular health in seniors.

It also decreases the risk of developing certain types of cancers as well as cognitive disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

Now that you know the benefits of the Mediterranean Diet, you just need to encourage your loved one to eat healthier.

We understand this is easier said than done, and that is why we’re here. Visiting Angels’ caregivers can help your senior with everything this diet includes, for example, finding recipes, shopping, and preparing tasty and healthy meals.

Visiting Angels of Denver is a leading provider of non-medical in home care services for seniors. To learn more about the in-home assisted living services provided by our staff of compassionate caregivers, please call our Wheat Ridge office at (303) 232-9999 or contact us for more information.

Visiting Angels proudly serves Arvada, Aurora, Denver, Glendale, Golden, Lakewood, Wheat Ridge, and the surrounding areas of Colorado. 

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