Information on the eating habits of 967 Scots around the age of 70 and with no dementia was gathered by the researchers. Out of this population, 562 had an MRI brain scan done at the age of 73 to measure overall brain volume, gray matter volume and thickness of the outer layer of the brain. 401 persons had the second scan done at age 76. These measurements were compared to how closely participants followed the Mediterranean diet that included large amounts of fruits, vegetables, olive oil, beans, cereal grains such as wheat and rice, moderate amounts of fish, wine and dairy and limited portions of red meat and poultry.
Based on the data collected, Dr Clare Walton, Research Manager at Alzheimer’s Society, says, "There is an increasing amount of evidence to indicate that eating a healthy diet that’s rich in oily fish, fresh vegetables and nuts is good for your brain and can help to maintain your memory as you get older. Our brains shrink by 1-2% per year in old age. This study suggests that a Mediterranean-style diet could also potentially help to slow down this shrinking process”.
He further clarifies though, “'While the evidence suggests a Mediterranean diet can help keep your brain healthy as you age, we can’t say yet that it prevents dementia. What’s good for your heart is also good for your head and a healthy lifestyle that features regular exercise, a balanced diet (including wine) and not smoking can help to lower your chances of dementia.”
The results showed that people who followed the diet had a 0.5 percent higher brain volume than those who didn’t. However, the Study is limited by the fact that it was based on the information supplied by the respondents and does not take into account other alcoholic beverages like Scotch which could naturally have been a part of their diet.
In another unrelated study last year, done on a group of Master Sommeliers who have an enormous experience of smelling wines, it was inferred that sommeliers and those who constantly smell wine are less likely to have dementia and Alzheimer’s disease than people who don’t.