The risk of dementia is increased for people with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) if they also have diabetes or depression.
MCI affects 19 per cent of people aged 65 or over and refers to problems remembering day-to-day things – it is more severe than the effects of natural ageing but not as severe as dementia.
University College London scientists recommended that certain lifestyle changes to improve diet and mood could reduce the risk, with the Mediterranean diet found to be beneficial.
Researchers reviewed 62 studies, assessing a total of 15,950 people who had been diagnosed with MCI. They discovered that people with diabetes were 65 per cent more likely to develop dementia, while those with psychiatric symptoms, such as depression, were twice as likely.
Roughly 46 per cent of people with MCI develop dementia within three years, compared to three per cent of the general population who experience a normal age-related decline in thinking.
Lead author Dr Claudia Cooper, UCL, said: “Lifestyle changes to improve diet and mood might help people with MCI to avoid dementia, and bring many other health benefits.”
The Mediterranean diet has been supported due to its rich content of fruit, oily fish and olive oil, which has been reported to protect against type 2 diabetes.
This has been backed by Dr. Clare Walto, research manager at Alzheimer’s Society in the UK, who added: “While there’s currently no cure [for dementia], we know that the best way to reduce your dementia risk is to eat a Mediterranean diet rich in oily fish and vegetables, keep physically active, not smoke and have your blood pressure regularly checked.”

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