There is emerging evidence for protective effects of the Mediterranean diet against Dementia and also in slowing down the course of cognitive decline.
In the course of reading about the Mediterranean diet, i’ve come across many references to the ‘Seven Countries study’. The study was designed by the remarkable Dr Ancel Keys. Keys was more widely known for his publications and controversy about the low fat diet. He displayed ingenuity in answering questions about diet and lifestyle.
Looking further into the Seven Countries study I was expecting to see a paper from the 1950’s and to be thinking about how to compensate for differences between research methodology then and now.
Instead I came across what can best be described as a ‘wall of science’. To understand the complexity of this and associated studies it is well worth looking at this Seven Countries study website. The website has been commissioned by Professor Daan Kromhout, the dutch investigator in the Seven Countries study.
To summarise, the Seven Countries study has followed up cohorts in seven different countries over a period of 50 years. This by itself is very impressive. The study has also led to a number of other studies – the Zutphen study, the Zutphen elderly study, the FINE, SENECA and HALE studies. The Seven Countries study as well as these associated studies has led to the publication of 10 books and 500 peer-reviewed articles.
The upshot is that this body of research can’t be easily summarised and it has to be approached carefully with regards to the questions being asked and where the answers have been published.
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