Mediterranean diet in predementia and dementia syndromes.Curr Alzheimer Res 2011; 8(5):520-42CA
There is a critical need to potentially individualize new strategies able to prevent and to slow down the progression of predementia and dementia syndromes. Only recently higher adherence to a Mediterranean-type diet was associated with decreased cognitive decline although the Mediterranean diet (MeDi) combines several foods, micro- and macronutrients already separately proposed as potential protective factors against dementia and predementia syndromes. In fact, elevated saturated fatty acids could have negative effects on age-related cognitive decline and mild cognitive impairment (MCI). Furthermore, at present, epidemiological evidence suggested a possible association among fish consumption, monounsaturated fatty acids and polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) (particularly, n-3 PUFA) and reduced risk of cognitive decline and dementia. Light to moderate alcohol use may be associated with a reduced risk of incident dementia and Alzheimer's disease (AD), while for vascular dementia, cognitive decline, and predementia syndromes the current evidence is only suggestive of a protective effect. Finally, the limited epidemiological evidence available on fruit and vegetable consumption and cognition generally supported a protective role of these macronutrients against cognitive decline, dementia, and AD. Moreover, recent prospective studies provided evidence that higher adherence to a Mediterranean-type diet could be associated with slower cognitive decline, reduced risk of progression from MCI to AD, reduced risk of AD, and decreased all-causes mortality in AD patients. These findings suggested that adherence to the MeDi may affect not only the risk for AD, but also for predementia syndromes and their progression to overt dementia. Nonetheless, at present, no definitive dietary recommendations are possible. However, high levels of consumption of fats from fish, vegetable oils, non-starchy vegetables, low glycemic fruits, and diet low in foods with added sugars and with moderate wine intake should be encouraged. In fact, this dietary advice is in accordance with recommendations for lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes, and hypertension and might open new ways for the prevention and management of cognitive decline and dementia.