Alzheimer’s & Dementia: Published Online: July 16, 2015
The Mediterranean diet (MeDi) has been related to a lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease; yet, the underlying mechanisms are unknown. We hypothesized that protection against neurodegeneration would translate into higher gray matter volumes, whereas a specific association with preserved white matter microstructure would suggest alternative mechanisms (e.g., vascular pathways).
We included 146 participants from the Bordeaux Three-City study nondemented when they completed a dietary questionnaire and who underwent a 3-T magnetic resonance imaging at an average of 9 years later, including diffusion tensor imaging.
In multivariate voxel-by-voxel analyses, adherence to the MeDi was significantly associated with preserved white matter microstructure in extensive areas, a gain in structural connectivity that was related to strong cognitive benefits. In contrast, we found no relation with gray matter volumes.
The MeDi appears to benefit brain health through preservation of structural connectivity. Potential mediation by a favorable impact on brain vasculature deserves further research.