This important paper should be used to guide clinical practice, he suggested.
"The best way to minimize Alzheimer's disease is with 30-minute sessions three times a week of brisk walking or weight lifting, maximizing mental activity and a Mediterranean diet," Gandy said.
"This is the best prescription for maintaining of mental function that we have in hand right now," he said.
In the study, the investigators found that those who followed the Mediterranean diet were 19 percent less likely to develop thinking and memory problems. This finding was the same for both black and white participants.
The single exception was the 17 percent of the participants who had diabetes. Among these people, the Mediterranean diet didn't appear to prevent thinking and memory difficulties from developing, the researchers found.
Although the study found a lower rate of these symptoms of early dementia in people who followed a Mediterranean diet, it did not establish a cause-and-effect relationship.
Further research is needed to generalize these results to other groups, and to establish how the Mediterranean diet exerts its neuroprotective effects on mental status, Tsivgoulis said.
To learn more about dementia and Alzheimer's disease, visit the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
SOURCES: Georgios Tsivgoulis, M.D., University of Alabama at Birmingham, and University of Athens, Greece; Sam Gandy, M.D., associate director, Mount Sinai Alzheimer's Disease Research Center, New York City; April 30, 2013, Neurology
All rights reserved