The worldwide burden of neurodegenerative diseases is enormous. In the absence of disease-modifying treatments, identifying modifiable risk factors over lifespan could alleviate the burden. Specifically, the Mediterranean Diet has been postulated as a potential alternative to prevent neurodegenerative diseases. In this sense, a prospective birth cohort study examined the effect of the Mediterranean diet (MedDiet) during pregnancy on infant neurodevelopment. The authors found that the MedDiet was inversely associated with communication domain developmental delays in infants. Interestingly, mediation analysis showed that such association could be partially mediated by C-peptide, but only among boys.
Another longitudinal study, conducted in adults aged 20-80 years, focused on the association between the MedDiet, brain structure and cognitive performance. On one hand, it analyzed the association of the MedDiet with changes in between- and within-network resting state functional connectivity (rsFC) – two neuroimaging measures of brain function- and with four cognitive tasks (memory, fluid reasoning, speed and attention, and vocabulary). The analyses showed no association between the MedDiet with within-network rsFC and any cognitive tasks, although the MedDiet was marginally associated with changes between-network rsFC. On the other hand, the authors evaluated the effect of the MedDiet on the association between rsFC and cognitive function. The results demonstrated that the MedDiet moderates the effect of change in between-network rsFC on change in memory domain.
The findings of both studies suggest that the MedDiet may protect cognitive function over the lifespan. Among other mechanisms that are widely explained in this narrative review, the gut-brain axis is postulated as a key mediator of the effect of nutrition on our brain health.
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