Thursday, October 12, 2006

Anti-Alzheimers diet?

The sample of sufferers was small and atypical (drawn from "2,258 community-based nondemented individuals in New York") so one can only hope that the Alzheimer's claims for the Mediterranean diet are better founded than the longevity claims

Earing a Mediterranean diet and cooking with olive oil can help to prevent Alzheimer's disease, scientists say. Those who eat lots of fruit, vegetables, whole grains, fish and drink a moderate amount of red wine are 68 per cent less likely to suffer Alzheimer's than those who do not. The findings add to the growing evidence that Mediterranean food is good for health.

The diet has already been associated with a longer life [See below] and can help to stave off cancer, obesity and coronary heart disease, but its effect against Alzheimer's appears to work independently, scientists at the Columbia University Medical Centre, New York, said. About 500,000 people in Britain suffer from Alzheimer's disease, which causes memory loss, mood changes and death.

The Columbia team studied nearly 1,984 adults, checking them for signs of dementia every 18 months and assessing their eating habits. At the start, 194 had Alzheimer's and by the end 89 more had developed the disease. The participants, whose average age was 76, were given a score between 0 and 9 on how closely they stuck to a Mediterranean diet, and were divided into three groups according to their score. Those in the top group, who stuck most closely to a Mediterranean diet, were 68 per cent less likely to get the disease compared with those in the bottom third. Those in the middle group were 53 per cent less likely to get Alzheimer's than the bottom third.

Writing in Archives of Neurology, a journal of the American Medical Association, the scientists said that for each additional point scored, the risk of Alzheimer's decreased by 19 to 24 per cent. The trends held true even after taking into account the participant's age, gender, ethnic background, weight and smoking history. The diet's effect on individuals with vascular diseases - such as stroke, heart disease and diabetes - suggested that it might work through specific pathways to reduce Alzheimer's disease.

The Mediterranean diet was first claimed in the 1950s to be behind the long life expectancy of southern Europeans. In 2004 a team of Dutch researchers found that among the elderly, the diet was linked with a 23 per cent lower risk of death over ten years. Statistics from the European Union say that Greeks stick most closely to the ideal Mediterranean diet, followed by the Spanish, Italians and French. Britons came fifth, ahead of Danes and Germans


Australia is a long way from the Mediterranean and so is the typical Australian diet (hamburgers, steak, sausages, Coke, chips, meat-pies etc.). So it is odd that the life expectancy of Australians is 75.6 for men and 81.3 for women. In good old Mediterranean Greece it is a MUCH longer: 76.3 for men and 81.6 for women. Less than a year's difference in both cases. And asserting that the small difference is solely due to diet would be sheer dogmatism. For a start, Greeks are much more rural than Australians -- who are overwhelmingly big-city dwellers -- and country lifestyles are often associated with longevity. The journal abstract follows:

Mediterranean diet and risk for Alzheimer's disease

By: Scarmeas, N et al.

OBJECTIVE: Previous research in Alzheimer's disease (AD) has focused on individual dietary components. There is converging evidence that composite dietary patterns such as the Mediterranean diet (MeDi) is related to lower risk for cardiovascular disease, several forms of cancer, and overall mortality. We sought to investigate the association between MeDi and risk for AD.

METHODS: A total of 2,258 community-based nondemented individuals in New York were prospectively evaluated every 1.5 years. Adherence to the MeDi (zero- to nine-point scale with higher scores indicating higher adherence) was the main predictor in models that were adjusted for cohort, age, sex, ethnicity, education, apolipoprotein E genotype, caloric intake, smoking, medical comorbidity index, and body mass index.

RESULTS: There were 262 incident AD cases during the course of 4 (+/-3.0; range, 0.2-13.9) years of follow-up. Higher adherence to the MeDi was associated with lower risk for AD (hazard ratio, 0.91; 95% confidence interval, 0.83-0.98; p=0.015). Compared with subjects in the lowest MeDi tertile, subjects in the middle MeDi tertile had a hazard ratio of 0.85 (95% confidence interval, 0.63-1.16) and those at the highest tertile had a hazard ratio of 0.60 (95% confidence interval, 0.42-0.87) for AD (p for trend=0.007).

INTERPRETATION: We conclude that higher adherence to the MeDi is associated with a reduction in risk for AD.


They prohibit or prevent almost all outdoors activity at schools on "safety" grounds so that the kids get no exercise -- and then they think that can all be fixed by handing out free vegetables!! It's like a comic opera!

Vouchers for milk, fruit, vegetables and vitamins are to be handed out to pregnant women and the parents of young children as part of moves to improve the health of the nation. The scheme, announced yesterday, replaces an initiative introduced during the Second World War under which young children were given free milk.

It came as a report released by the Department of Health revealed that Britain is the fattest country in Europe, with one in seven children obese. Caroline Flint, the Public Health Minister, announced the voucher scheme as she issued a statistical profile of England designed to highlight health blackspots. The profile breaks England into regions and shows a strong North-South divide on health, with people in the North East dying two years earlier on average than those in the South West. Vouchers are to be distributed from next month to parents on benefits to encourage them to give their children healthier diets. Ms Flint hopes that this will make it easier for the poorest sectors of society to buy fruit and vegetables.

The Government is already campaigning for people to eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day. Fewer than a quarter do so and the consumption of healthy food in Britain is below the European average. A pilot voucher scheme carried out in Devon and Cornwall found that fruit and vegetable intake increased and the range of products stocked by rural grocers improved. Ms Flint said: “It’s a reinvigoration of the Welfare Food Scheme. Since the Second World War, vouchers for milk have been available. Now the vouchers can be used for milk, fruit, vegetables and vitamins. “We’ve found parents are buying the fruit and vegetables and small retailers in rural parts are bringing in more fruit and vegetables.”

Under the scheme, pregnant woman will receive 2.80 pounds a week. Parents will receive 5.60 a week for each child under a year old and 2.80 for each child aged 1 to 5. The vouchers will be redeemable at a range of grocery stores and supermarkets.

Ms Flint said that obesity was the largest problem faced by public health professionals, with 14.3 per cent of children aged 2 to 10 classified as obese. She suggested that supermarkets could help to improve the national diet by showing customers how to cook and eat more unusual fruit and vegetables.



Just some problems with the "Obesity" war:

1). It tries to impose behavior change on everybody -- when most of those targeted are not obese and hence have no reason to change their behaviour. It is a form of punishing the innocent and the guilty alike. (It is also typical of Leftist thinking: Scorning the individual and capable of dealing with large groups only).

2). The longevity research all leads to the conclusion that it is people of MIDDLING weight who live longest -- not slim people. So the "epidemic" of obesity is in fact largely an "epidemic" of living longer.

3). It is total calorie intake that makes you fat -- not where you get your calories. Policies that attack only the source of the calories (e.g. "junk food") without addressing total calorie intake are hence pissing into the wind. People involuntarily deprived of their preferred calorie intake from one source are highly likely to seek and find their calories elsewhere.

4). So-called junk food is perfectly nutritious. A big Mac meal comprises meat, bread, salad and potatoes -- which is a mainstream Western diet. If that is bad then we are all in big trouble.

5). Food warriors demonize salt and fat. But we need a daily salt intake to counter salt-loss through perspiration and the research shows that people on salt-restricted diets die SOONER. And Eskimos eat huge amounts of fat with no apparent ill-effects. And the average home-cooked roast dinner has LOTS of fat. Will we ban roast dinners?

6). The foods restricted are often no more calorific than those permitted -- such as milk and fruit-juice drinks.

7). Tendency to weight is mostly genetic and is therefore not readily susceptible to voluntary behaviour change.

8). And when are we going to ban cheese? Cheese is a concentrated calorie bomb and has lots of that wicked animal fat in it too. Wouldn't we all be better off without it? [/sarcasm].


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