Effects of the Mediterranean Diet on Brain Function : Underlying mechanisms

University essay from Högskolan i Skövde/Institutionen för biovetenskap

Abstract: The Mediterranean diet (Medi) has been highlighted as the golden diet rich in protective properties associated with cognitive- and emotional health. The foundation of the Medi comprises vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds, legumes, and extra virgin olive oil. Research has been conducted in both holistic dietary approach and single nutrient approach regarding the impact of nutrition and diet, in this case, the Medi‟s effect on brain health. This review aims to give an up to date overview of the Mediterranean diet, outline some of the diet's abundant nutrients, and discuss studies linking the nutrient's potential effect on depression, cognitive decline, dementia, and brain structure and function. In addition, this review will attempt to assess whether the Medi as a whole or if a single nutrient approach is accountable for the health-promoting findings. Furthermore, the gut-brain axis, and other potential underlying mechanisms involved in the modulation of food- and nutrient intake and their effects on the brain, will be outlined. A diet high in fruit-, vegetable-, polyunsaturated fatty acid-, and monounsaturated fatty acid content has great power for health-maintenance and decreases the risk of suffering cognitive decline, dementia, and potentially depression. More randomized controlled trials are however eagerly awaited to give more substance to previous findings.

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