Search the LastingHealth website


March 20, 2023

Mediterranean diet lowers risk of developing dementia

Eating a Mediterranean diet has been associated with a lower risk of developing dementia. Data was used from 60,000 male and female participants aged 40-69 recruited to the UK Biobank. Data was collected including a self-reported questionnaire of their intake of food using Oxford WebQ, a web-based 24-h dietary assessment tool, interviews, and biological samples.


Dementia risk was calculated to be between 4–6.9% lower for those who followed a Mediterranean diet (MedDiet). Women were found to be more likely to adhere to a MedDiet, and overall participants who reported the highest adherence to the MedDiet had a 23% lower risk of developing dementia. 


Why is a Mediterranean diet beneficial? 

Mediterranean diets rich in fruit, vegetables and pulses such as lentils and beans have high levels of antioxidants, which neutralise free radicals in the body and enter the body in our food and drink. When free radicals build up the body comes under oxidative stress which can cause cell damage and lead to illnesses including cancer and neurodegenerative disorders such as dementia. 


Free radicals occur naturally in the body as a biproduct of metabolism and are usually removed by the body with the help of antioxidants. The body creates free radicals in response to environmental exposures such as air pollution, tobacco, and other environmental pollutants such as herbicides and pesticides. 


Eat a chemical free, organic Mediterranean diet 

Glyphosate is the world’s most widely used herbicides to clear weeds before fruit and vegetables, and grains are grown. It can leave detectable traces in food which can enter the body. It can also be traced in honey and other hive products. Raised levels of glyphosate are associated with elevated levels of oxidative stress markers.  


The good news is that glyphosate is relatively easy to avoid by eating organically grown food and drinking organic milk, including soy and oat, which most food retailers offer. It’s worth noting the foods listed on the Pesticides Action Network’s ‘Dirty Dozen’ and prioritising these when choosing organically grown food.


You can also grow your own fruit and vegetables without using any chemicals.  


Further reading

EDC Insights 5 – Glyphosate

Alzheimer’s Society information on Mediterranean diet 

Lasting Health