In another study published earlier this year, Scarmeas found that those who adhere to a Mediterranean diet had a lower risk of developing cognitive impairment, and a lower risk of developing Alzheimer's disease if they already had cognitive impairment.
In a second study in the same journal, researchers (including Scarmeas) looked at 1,410 French adults and found adherence to a Mediterranean diet was linked to slower decline on one cognitive test but not others. They didn't find high adherence to the heart-healthy diet linked with the risk for dementia.
In an editorial, the Mayo Clinic's Dr. David Knopman writes that a healthy diet may help prevent Alzheimer's but does not seem to occur in isolation.
"For such a benign intervention as diet and exercise, 60 percent [reduction in Alzheimer's] is substantial," said Dr. Greg Cole, associate director of the Mary S. Easton Center for Alzheimer's Disease Research at the University of California Los Angeles David Geffen School of Medicine.
Already, about 5.3 million Americans have Alzheimer's disease, according to the Alzheimer's Association, and up to 16 million may have it by 2050.
"So, the 60 percent reduction from diet and exercise can have a huge impact because we are talking about so many millions of people," Cole said.
The findings are in line with what the Alzheimer's Association already recommends in its "Maintain Your Brain" program, said William H. Thies, vice president for medical and scientific relations for the organization.
"One of the things that is important [to note] is, they are looking at normal people," he said, not those who already have the disease. "You aren't going to cure Alzheimer's disease by eating lots of olives."
All rights reserved