Researchers at the University of East Anglia are launching a new study to see whether the beneficial effects of a Mediterranean diet could help prevent dementia.
They will investigate whether eating a diet rich in fruit, vegetables, legumes, fish, nuts and olive oil can help with cognitive function and brain health.
The team are looking for people in Norfolk aged between 55 and 74 to take part in the study, who will be asked to make changes to their diet over a 24-week period.
Lead researcher Prof Anne-Marie Minihane, from UEA’s Norwich Medical School and director of Norwich Institute for Healthy Aging, said: “Dementia is a growing problem. There are currently about 850,000 people with dementia in the UK, and this is forecast to increase to over two million by 2051.
“Although there are some drugs available to treat the symptoms, there is currently no cure, and little is known about how to slow its progression.
“We want to understand what causes dementia so we can help prevent or delay it as people age.
“Over the past 10 years, scientists have identified certain factors which are associated with a lower risk of dementia, including eating a Mediterranean diet.
“This includes consuming plenty of fruit and vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds, fish and olive oil, and only small amounts of red and processed meat alongside sugary foods and drinks.
“However, we need more evidence from human studies to show that this type of diet can help improve brain function.”
As well as following a Mediterranean diet, participants will be asked to login to the study website regularly, wear an activity tracker, record their diet for five days, wear a 24-hour blood pressure monitor, and take part in cognitive tests.
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