The Mediterranean diet nonsense again

It is hard to know what to laugh at first in the report below.  For a start, where did they find eaters of a Mediterranean diet in Scotland?

Secondly, Scottish food makes English food look gourmet.  Scottish food is extraordinarily plain, with "mince 'n tatties" being the staple.  So any departure from it should increase the range of nutrients consumed.

Thirdly, do we know that diet had anything to do with it at all?  Scots who deviated from their traditional diet could well have been more health-conscious and done other things to keep themselves healthy -- like jogging and having a "doch 'n doris" (alcohol) less frequently.

Fourthly, if a Mediterranean diet is so good for you, how came Australians are exceptionally long lived?  Foods such as hamburgers, steak, sausages, beef pies and sausage rolls are Australian staples and they are about as far from a Mediterranean diet as Australia is geographically far from the Mediterranean

The study tells us NOTHING about the Mediterranean diet

IT is never too late to start eating a Mediterranean diet, as a study shows it could stop the brains of people in their seventies from shrinking.

Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, olive oil, and even a glass of wine a day, may protect the grey matter which declines as we age.

A study of pensioners with this diet found their brain shrinkage, associated with memory loss and Alzheimer’s, was half of others their age.

The benefits are believed to come from the antioxidants found in vegetables, olive oil and even the glass of red every day which forms part of the Mediterranean diet. These are thought to reduce damage in the brain from oxidation, which leads to neural degeneration.

Lead author Dr Michelle Luciano, from the University of Edinburgh, said: 'As we age, the brain shrinks and we lose brain cells which can affect learning and memory,

'This study adds to the body of evidence that suggests the Mediterranean diet has a positive impact on brain health.'

The latest study, published in the journal Neurology, gathered information on the dietary habits of almost 1,000 people in Scotland aged 70.

A Mediterranean diet was judged as one high in fruit and vegetables, beans and grains such as wheat and rice, including the mono-unsaturated fats found in olive oil, and even allowing for moderate consumption of up to the equivalent of a large glass of wine a day for women or two for men.

People of this age would be expected to lose around 18ml of their brain volume in the three years between 73 and 76. Up to two per cent of the brain is lost every year as we grow older.

But those found to have most closely stuck to a Mediterranean diet when questioned about it by researchers experienced less than half of that shrinkage, MRI brain scans showed.

This is important because a loss of brain volume as people get older affects their memory, increases the speed at which they process information and even the speed at which they speak and their attention span.

Dr Luciano said: 'In our study, eating habits were measured before brain volume was, which suggests that the diet may be able to provide long-term protection to the brain. Still, larger studies are needed to confirm these results.'


UPDATE:  The academic journal article is "Mediterranean-type diet and brain structural change from 73 to 76 years in a Scottish cohort". The only social controls applied were for education and IQ.

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