The MedWalk diet: one more step towards getting out of dementia
It has been named the world’s best diet for weight loss, but researchers at the University of South Australia are now convinced that the Mediterranean diet – combined with daily physical activity – can also prevent dementia, slowing the decline of brain function which is commonly associated with old age.
In the first global study, which begins this week, researchers at the University of South Australia and Swinburne University, along with a consortium of partners *, will explore the health benefits of older people joining a Mediterranean diet, while undertaking a daily walk.
Dubbed the MedWalk Trial, the two-year, $ 1.8 million NHMRC-funded study will recruit 364 older Australians – aged 60 to 90, living independently in a residential village and cognitively impaired – at 28 residential sites in South Australia and Victoria.
It’s a timely study, especially given Australia’s aging population, where around a quarter of all Australians will be aged 65 and over by 2050.
UniSA’s principal investigator, Associate Professor Karen Murphy, says combining the dietary benefits of the Mediterranean diet with the health benefits of an exercise intervention could provide significant benefits.
“Dementia is a disease that affects a person’s thinking, behavior and ability to perform daily tasks. Although it is more common in older Australians, it is not a normal part of aging.” , explains Professor Assoc Murphy.
âIn Australia, approximately 472,000 people live with dementia. Each year it costs the economy more than $ 14 billion, which is expected to grow to over $ 1,000 billion over the next 40 years.
âWhile there is currently no way to prevent or cure dementia, there is a growing consensus that a focus on risk reduction can have positive results. This is where our study comes in.
âThe early pilots of our MedWalk intervention show improved memory and thinking in a subgroup of older participants adhering to a combination of the Mediterranean diet and daily walking for six months.
“We are now expanding this study to a larger group of older Australians, using carefully designed behavior change and maintenance strategies in the hope of dramatically reducing the incidence of dementia across Australia. “
A Mediterranean diet is rich in fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, and fish, while being low in saturated fat, red meat, and alcohol.
The 24-month study will randomly assign residential community sites to the MedWalk intervention, or their usual lifestyle (the control group), so that all participants who live in a facility will be in the same group. Eating and walking changes will be supported by organized and regular motivation, eating and exercise sessions.
Professor Andrew Pipingas, head of neurocognitive aging research at the Swinburne Center for Human Psychopharmacology and chief researcher, said the trial aims to prevent the onset of dementia.
âAs it is extremely difficult to find a cure and treat people in the later stages of the disease, focusing our efforts on helping those at risk of developing dementia stay healthy is one way to ensure Australians stay healthy. good health in the future. ”
Notes for Editors:
- May is National Mediterranean Diet Month
- The full list of partners involved in this study is: Swinburne University; University of South Australia; Deakin University; La Trobe University; RMIT University; Murdoch University; Sheffield Hallam University, UK; University of East Anglia, United Kingdom; University College of Cork, Ireland.
Media contact: Annabel Mansfield T: +61 8 8302 0351 M: +61 417 717 504 E: [email protected]
Researchers: UniSA: Associate Professor Karen Murphy T: +61 8 8302 1033 E: [email protected]
Swinburne: Professor Andrew Pipingas T: +61 3 9214 5215 E: [email protected]
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