Can Diet Affect Intelligence As People Age?

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Multiple claims are made for the health benefits of various diets. Dr. J G Moellendorf, DC, ND, LCP considers recent research on the Mediterranean-style diet.

Studies show a consistent pattern of better cognitive function, lower rates of cognitive decline, and a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease when a Mediterranean diet was adhered to.

Everyone needs to eat to maintain their body. While junk food can be very damaging to one’s health, Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin Chiropractor and Naturopath Dr. J G Moellendorf, DC, ND, LCP poses the question: what type of diet is most beneficial to support one’s health?

A team of researchers led by Miguel A Martinez-Gonzalez of the University of Navarra Medical School-Clinic in Pamplona, Spain studied the health effects of the Mediterranean diet on 522 participants at high risk for vascular diseases. Their results were published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry, May 2013 issue titled: Mediterranean diet improves cognition: the PREDIMED-NAVARRA randomized trial. Previous research observed inconsistent positive benefits of the Mediterranean diet on cognitive function (mental processes involving attention, decision making, language, learning, memory, problem solving, and reasoning). The researchers compared the results after 6.5 years on either of two Mediterranean based diets (supplemented with either extra-virgin olive oil or mixed nuts) to a low-fat diet typically used to prevent heart attacks and strokes. Overall cognitive performance was evaluated with the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) and the Clock Drawing Test (CDT).

Compared to the low-fat diet, those on the Mediterranean diet with olive oil did 162 to 205 percent better on the MMSE and 151 to 182 percent better on the CDT. Those on the Mediterranean diet with mixed nuts did 157 to 203 percent better on the MMSE and 133 to 167 percent better on the CDT than the low-fat group. The researchers concluded that those on a Mediterranean diet with added olive oil or nuts had better cognitive abilities than those on a typical low-fat diet.

In July 2013, Epidemiology published Mediterranean diet, cognitive function, and dementia: a systematic review. The research team led by Iliana Lourida at the University of Exeter Medical School in Exeter, England did a systematic review of 11 electronic databases for published articles through January 2012 associating a Mediterranean diet with dementia or cognitive function. Twelve eligible papers met predefined criteria for quality, describing seven unique cohorts. Nine of the twelve studies showed a consistent pattern of better cognitive function, lower rates of cognitive decline, and a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease when a Mediterranean diet was adhered to.

The American Journal of Epidemiology June 2013 published Low-Risk Lifestyle, Coronary Calcium, Cardiovascular Events, and Mortality: Results From MESA. The research team led by Haitham Ahmed of Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore, Maryland found that regular exercise, eating a Mediterranean-style diet, maintaining a normal weight, and not smoking protected against coronary heart disease and reduced the chance of death from all causes by 80 percent over a 7.6 year period.

The current research indicates the beneficial effects of adopting the Mediterranean diet in lessening the risk of heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. Most promising were the results seen in retaining cognitive function as people get older. Mediterranean-style diets are noted for the high consumption of olive oil, legumes, unrefined cereals, fresh fruit and vegetables, moderate to high consumption of fish, moderate amounts of dairy products (mostly cheese and yogurt), moderate red wine, low to moderate consumption of poultry, and low amounts of red meats. Total dietary fat makes up 25 to 35 percent of total calories, of which less than 8 percent is saturated fat. Consideration should be given to this diet for its beneficial effects on health.

Using the latest research findings, Moellendorf Chiropractic Office, Ltd. uses a comprehensive package of Chiropractic care, decompression traction therapy, active therapeutic movement training, cold laser therapy, and nutrition for the natural treatment of neurological conditions, neck and back pain, and other health conditions without drugs or surgery. Additional information about Chiropractic, Naturopathy, and other forms of natural health care has been provided by Moellendorf Chiropractic Office, Ltd. at

About: Dr. J G Moellendorf, DC, ND, LCP

Dr. J G Moellendorf, DC, ND, LCP attended the University of Wisconsin—Superior where he majored in Physics and Mathematics, with a minor in art photography. While attending the University of Minnesota—Minneapolis, he assisted in research on ribosomal proteins. Completing his Chiropractic studies at Palmer College of Chiropractic in Davenport, Iowa, he graduated Cum Laude (with high honors) in 1983. He started Moellendorf Chiropractic Office, Ltd. in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin in 1983. In 1996, Dr. Moellendorf was awarded his Doctorate in Naturopathy from Trinity School of Natural Health. In 2001, he received Chiropractic’s most prestigious award, the honorary Legion of Chiropractic Philosophers degree, for his thesis “The Workings of Innate Intelligence in Obsessive/Compulsive and Addictive Behaviors.” This paper was chosen for publishing in the book Philosophic Contemplations vol. 2 in 2002. In June of 2012, Dr. Moellendorf authored his first book titled Healthcare’s Best Kept Secret which can be ordered on Amazon. Dr. Moellendorf can be contacted by phone (920) 493-2126, fax (920) 743-1145, email jgmoellendorf(at)itol(dot)com, his website at, or send a carrier pigeon to 44.84722N and 87.36416W.

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