Research consistently shows the Mediterranean diet is good for the brain. In fact, one cohort study conducted by the UK Biobank found that people who follow this diet can reduce their risk of dementia by almost 25 percent. Even those who are genetically disposed to dementia can reduce their risk by following this eating plan. This information will be of benefit to senior living in Roseville, CA communities as they work to prepare healthy meal plans for seniors.

How This Study Was Conducted?

This study tracked over 60,000 seniors for approximately nine years. Of those taking part in the study, only 1.4 percent developed dementia. Researchers wanted to know why this diet high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and seafood helps protect against cognitive decline. They divided the participants into three groups based on how closely they adhered to the Mediterranean diet. Senior living options should benefit from the information learned in this study when developing diet plans for different residents.

To determine this level of adherence, the researchers used two tools. They first used the 14-point MedDiet Adherence Screen (MEDAS) score. They also had participants complete the 15-point MedDiet PYRAMID score. In addition, the research team established an Alzheimer’s risk score. Memory care communities and senior living homes will also need to consider using tools such as these when creating each resident’s meal plan.

The Results

The study found that this diet reduced a person’s risk of developing dementia even for those with a higher risk. This holds for every person, not just seniors. Individuals with a genetic propensity for dementia will always have a higher risk of cognitive decline, regardless of their diet, however. Every person needs to understand that diet is only one of several factors that determine a person’s risk for developing dementia.

Limits of the Study

Researchers admit this study is not perfect. The findings were observational and were reported by the participants themselves. The research team found that the findings were inconsistent.

In addition, all participants in the cohort study were of European descent. The researchers admit similar findings might not be seen in other ethnic groups. Additional research would need to be done with these groups to see if they obtained similar results.

Highly educated females who exercise regularly and maintain a healthy weight are most likely to adhere closely to this diet. Researchers feel the combination of a healthy diet and lifestyle choices might play a role in the neuroprotection these individuals receive. Additional research would need to be done on those who follow the diet but don’t exercise regularly or maintain a healthy weight.

Furthermore, the study did not determine why the diet might protect the brain from cognitive decline. The research team found some evidence that it might be because these foods decrease inflammation. It would also be because the foods change the microbiome in a positive way. Antioxidants and phytochemicals present in the foods are necessary for brain functioning, and that might play a role in the benefits seen.

Why Is This Important?

One benefit of community living for seniors is that meals are typically included in the accommodations. While each resident needs a customized diet plan, a Mediterranean diet benefits most people. Staff at the community can create meals using this information while making slight adjustments to meet the needs of each resident. This ensures optimal health for all who reside in the community.

The benefits seen with this diet extend far beyond cognitive health. Following this diet may also reduce a person’s risk of certain types of cancer along with cardiovascular disease. Good health is essential to the quality of life. Seniors who feel good are more inclined to take part in activities offered by the community, and social interaction has been shown to benefit their mental health.

When comparing senior living accommodations for a loved one, families need to consider multiple factors. Dietary choices are one factor that should never be overlooked. While every community typically offers meals for residents, the quality of these meals must be taken into consideration. Choose a community that provides healthy meals designed to nourish their seniors and protect their physical, mental, and emotional health as long as possible.

About Summerfield of Roseville:

Families looking for an elegant senior living community for a loved one should make an appointment to visit us at Summerfield of Roseville. We offer 56 memory care living suites overseen by a staff of skilled, friendly, and compassionate team members. We remain available 24 hours a day for our residents struggling with cognitive decline and ensure all their needs are met.