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Mediterranean Diet vs (Loss of) Memory

Posted May 02 2013 3:00am
It never ceases to amaze me but I keep getting asked which is the best diet.  Both patients & physicians want a definitive answer, even those who attended the recent American Academy of Family Physicians' Geriatric Medicine conference held in Santa Ana Pueblo, NM last week.  Whether for fat loss, muscle gain, heart disease, diabetes, etc, we're all searching for that elusive best diet.  Perhaps it's even scarier that so many different authors have stepped in to fill this void as we're inundated each day with the diet du jour.  that claims to be the newest, greatest way to lose fat, gain muscle, prevent heart disease & treat diabetes.  And of course, each of the authors claims to have discovered the key to unlocking the secrets of our poor health.

But if you think about it, typically when there are many clamoring for the attention of the same demographic, there usually isn't one best.  Take cars, medications, music & movies, for example.  Sure, we attempt to name a Car of the Year, and offer both a Grammy award & Oscar, but when it comes to medications, the best one is the one you can afford that will do what you want when administered in a manner & frequency which you can accept with tolerable side effects.  Not so easy, right?

Likewise, when it comes to eating habits, we need to take into account cultural, ethnic & religious factors.  But what separates diet & medications from cars, music & movies is the evidence available to support one's claim to best.  And when it comes to diets, only the Mediterranean diet has continuous, consistent & compelling evidence to support its adoption.  Most recently, a randomized controlled trial of the Mediterranean diet was shown to be better than placebo at preventing an initial cardiac event .  Of course, we've always had plenty of observational data suggesting benefit from eating in a manner similar to the Mediterranean diet.

The best news is that earlier this week, a prospective, population-based, cohort study was published in Neurology in which the authors concluded that greater adherence to the Mediterranean diet was linked to lower risk of cognitive impairment.  They followed 17,478 participants for an avg of 4yrs during which time cognitive status was assessed annually while food frequency was just assessed once at study onset.
And what of those other diets?  While they can make any number of miraculous claims, none have peer-reviewed published outcome data to support their capitalistic attempts.  So check out the Mediterranean diet and adopt your variation on a theme.  No one stands to receive any (financial) gain, just you.  
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