Pittsburgh / Allison Park Senior Care Blog

Studies that Link Diet and Dementia

By Erin Carll

Several studies have been conducted that link cognitive decline with diet, some that target Alzheimer’s specifically, and the conclusions are fairly remarkable. Those that followed a Mediterranean diet or a MIND diet had anywhere from a 30 to 53 percent lower risk of cognitive impairment and developing dementia.

Lead author of one study, Claire McEvoy from the University of California at San Francisco’s School of Medicine, reported studying the eating habits of 6,000 older Americans. Their average age was 68. An article in CNN reported McEvoy as stating, “The more people stayed on those diets (Mediterranean and MIND), the better they functioned cognitively.” Even those who only marginally followed the diet had an 18 percent chance of lowered cognitive impairment.

The Mediterranean Diet

The diet native to the lands of Greece and Southern Italy first came into vogue when researchers discovered that those who followed this diet and lifestyle were less likely to develop heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes. It’s a diet that is high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, seeds, nuts, fish, olive oil and garlic. Poultry is consumed more than red meat, but rarely takes center stage.

The MIND Diet

The MIND diet stands for Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay. It’s a combination of both the Mediterranean diet and the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet. This approach includes a weekly regiment of at least six servings of leafy green vegetables and a daily serving of one other vegetable with three servings of whole grains. Three servings of beans, two or more servings of berries, two servings of poultry and one serving of fish are also required every week. As with the Mediterranean Diet, olive oil is the fat of choice.
What you don’t eat sometimes matters as much as what you do eat. Foods to avoid include butter, margarine, red meats, fried or fast food, sweets and pastry, and cheeses.

Additional Studies

Martha Clare Morris, a nutritional epidemiologist at Chicago’s Rush University Medical Center developed the MIND diet which she tested on 923 seniors. Those who followed it to the letter were found to have a 53 percent less chance of developing Alzheimer’s. Even those who followed it only moderately lowered their risk by 35 percent.

Another study conducted at the Wake Forest School of Medicine followed over 7,000 older women for 10 years and determined that those who followed the MIND diet were 34 percent less likely to develop Alzheimer’s.

Home Care Provider

A home care provider can help you provide your parent with the best nutritional and lifestyle choices. They can run errands such as grocery shopping, prepare meals that are based on the MIND diet, accompany your parent on daily walks or provide transportation to exercise classes. Companionship often offers the needed incentive one requires to make the necessary lifestyle changes that can otherwise seem daunting.


If you or an aging loved one are considering hiring home care services in Cheswick, PA, please call the caring staff at Home Helpers. Call today (412) 201-0712.