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Mediterranean Diet May Benefit Alzheimer's Patients

Those who adhere to the diet may have a significantly reduced risk of death

MONDAY, Sept. 10 (HealthDay News) -- The Mediterranean diet -- already linked to a lower risk of developing Alzheimer disease -- may also increase the longevity of patients with established disease, researchers report in the Sept. 11 issue of Neurology.

Nikolaos Scarmeas, M.D., of the Columbia University Medical Center in New York City, and colleagues followed 192 mostly non-white subjects for an average of 4.5 years. The cohort consisted of community-dwelling Medicare patients living in northern Manhattan who had been diagnosed with Alzheimer disease.

The researchers found that patients in the highest tertile for adherence to the Mediterranean diet, which includes a high intake of vegetables, legumes, fruits, cereals, fish, monounsaturated fatty acids, a low intake of saturated fatty acids, dairy products, meat and poultry, and small to moderate amounts of alcohol, had a significantly lower risk of death (odds ratio, 0.27) compared to patients in the lowest tertile for adherence.

"The ability to accurately measure adherence to specific dietary patterns will become increasingly important in epidemiologic studies not only for neurodegenerative disease, but also in numerous other conditions including cardiovascular disease, cerebrovascular disease, and cancer," states the author of an accompanying editorial. "In the case of Alzheimer disease, not only do dietary changes appear important, but evidence now exists that exercise and mental stimulation may also reduce risks and consequences of disease, such as modifying the course of cognitive decline and delaying mortality."

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