Worried about Alzheimer’s? Go Mediterranean!

By Ann Griswold • Published: October 13th, 2009
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

The prospect of developing Alzheimer’s disease is frightening, and people at risk for the disease often try a variety of approaches to reduce their risk. Some engage in daily exercise. Others play brain games. And still others opt to eat a healthy diet to ward off the debilitating condition.

Now, a study shows that a combination of daily exercise and a Mediterranean diet may be the key to preventing Alzheimer’s.

The typical Mediterranean diet is rich in fruits, grains, vegetables, fish and poultry rather than red meat. It also allows for moderate consumption of wine and healthy fats like olive oil and nuts. The diet already has been linked to a lower risk of developing cancer, heart disease, diabetes and other conditions.

Scientists at Columbia University set out to determine whether Alzheimer’s could be best prevented by exercise, a healthy diet or a combination of the two. They asked nearly two-thousand elderly people in Manhattan about their dietary habits and exercise levels, then monitored the group for five years to see how they fared.

The scientists found that regular exercise lowered the risk of Alzheimer’s by about thirty-three percent, while a Mediterranean diet lowered the risk by forty percent. But older people who engaged in combination of the two had a sixty percent lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s.

The results show that genes aren’t everything when it comes to developing certain conditions. Environmental factors like diet and exercise can go a long way toward preventing Alzheimer’s disease. Worried about your risk? Break out the baguette, olive oil and red wine. Cheers!