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Here’s How the Mediterranean Diet Can Lower Your Dementia Risk and Extend Your Life

You might eat a lot of healthy foods — but do you know which ones might add years to your life? There are plenty of foods that, if eaten regularly, could help you live longer. It turns out the majority of these “anti-aging” foods are also part of one of the healthiest diets in the world — the Mediterranean diet. Why does this diet get so much praise? It has a lot of proven benefits — including decreasing your risk for cognitive decline, dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease.

Research presented at the July 2017 Alzheimer’s Association International Conference suggests older adults who follow the MIND and Mediterranean diets are more likely to maintain cognitive function as they age. Previous studies have also suggested these diets can reduce dementia risk, but that isn’t the only benefit. Here are all the ways following the Mediterranean diet could keep your mind sharp and extend your life. The sooner you start, the better.

1. So, what is dementia?

Dementia results in cognitive decline and brain changes.

Dementia results in cognitive decline and brain changes. Dementia progresses in stages, sometimes slowly, sometimes quickly. | iStock.com

According to Healthline, dementia causes memory loss and deterioration in cognitive function, and actually changes the brain physically. As a result, a person with dementia finds it progressively difficult to remember things, communicate, and think clearly. Dementia gets progressively worse over time, which can happen gradually in some people and quickly in others.

Alzheimer’s disease is just one of many types of dementia. Approximately 60 to 80% of people who have dementia are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Parkinson’s disease, which causes uncontrollable tremors, among other symptoms, is also a type of dementia. Unfortunately, as a person progresses through stages of any form of the disease, risk of infection and other complications increase. There is no cure.

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