Rx Nutrition Resource Center

Rx Nutrition Resource Center

April 22, 2020
2 min read

Cognitive performance improves with Mediterranean diet in longer-duration type 2 diabetes

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Adhering to a Mediterranean diet was associated with better verbal memory among adults with type 2 diabetes for at least 5 years, according to a cross-sectional analysis published in Nutrition and Diabetes.

“The Mediterranean diet has been already reported to exert beneficial effects on cardiovascular disease and additionally on cognitive performance mainly in healthy elderly individuals or individuals with increased cardiovascular risk,” Theresa Kossler, MD, of the Institute for Clinical Diabetology at the German Diabetes Center and Leibniz Center for Diabetes Research and medical faculty in the division of endocrinology and diabetology at Heinrich Heine University Dusseldorf, Germany, and colleagues wrote. “The present results show an association between Mediterranean diet and verbal memory in individuals with diabetes.”

Kossler and colleagues analyzed data from adults participating in the German Diabetes Study: metabolically healthy (n = 41; 85% men; mean age, 49.5 years; mean BMI, 29.1 kg/m2), recently diagnosed type 1 diabetes (n = 75; 59% men; mean age, 35.9 years; mean BMI, 25.2 kg/m2), type 1 diabetes for at least 5 years (n = 44; 61% men; mean age, 43 years; mean BMI, 25.2 kg/m2), recently diagnosed type 2 diabetes (n = 118; 64% men; mean age, 52.2 years; mean BMI, 32.2 kg/m2) and type 2 diabetes for at least 5 years (n = 62; 58% men; mean age, 59.7 years; mean BMI, 31.5 kg/m2). Participants with diabetes had HbA1c within guideline targets. Those with type 1 diabetes were treated with insulin, and those with type 2 diabetes were treated with oral glucose-lowering drugs (19%), insulin (6%) or lifestyle modification (75%).

Participants underwent cognition testing and completed the Multiple Choice Word Test-B and a 12-month food frequency questionnaire. Researchers calculated mean total energy intake and food intake and assessed adherence to a Mediterranean diet via the Modified Mediterranean diet scale.

Adhering to a Mediterranean diet was associated with better verbal memory among adults with type 2 diabetes.
Source: Adobe Stock

Mean cognition scores were normal for all participants. The mean Modified Mediterranean diet scale score was 4.5 among the entire cohort. A positive association between Mediterranean diet adherence and verbal memory was observed only among participants with type 2 diabetes for at least 5 years (P = .043). No relationship between diet adherence and cognition was observed for the other groups.

“These data suggest that closer adherence to Mediterranean diet was associated with better performance in verbal memory in patients with type 2 diabetes with known diabetes duration 5 years, but not in patients with recently diagnosed type 2 diabetes or in patients with type 1 diabetes or metabolically healthy individuals,” the researchers wrote. “Although the underlying mechanisms are currently unknown, one may speculate that the high content of antioxidants in Mediterranean diet may contribute to better cognitive performance by reducing the production of reactive oxygen species and attenuating inflammatory processes, both of which have been linked to cognitive decline,” – by Erin T. Welsh

Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.