Researchers at the University of British Columbia (UBC) Faculty of Medicine has suggested a strong link between following the MIND and Mediterranean diets and later onset of Parkinson’s disease.

MIND stands for the Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay.

The MIND diet aims to reduce dementia and the decline in brain health that often occurs as people get older, according to Healthline. It combines aspects of two very popular diets, the Mediterranean diet and the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet.

Study author and neurologist Dr. Silke Cresswell-Appel said, “The study shows individuals with Parkinson’s disease have a significantly later age of onset if their eating pattern closely aligns with the Mediterranean-type diet. The difference shown in the study was up to 17 years later in women and eight years later in men.”

“There is a lack of medications to prevent or delay Parkinson’s disease yet we are optimistic that this new evidence suggests nutrition could potentially delay the onset of the disease,” she added.

The researchers found that close adherence to these diets had a later onset of Parkinsonism in men of up to 8.4 years and women of up to 17.4 years.

They also found that the MIND diet showed a significant impact on women’s health, while the Mediterranean diet showed a significant impact on men’s health.

Lead author Dr. Avril Metcalfe-Roach said. “If we understand the sex differences between the MIND diet and Mediterranean diet then we might better understand the sex differences that drive Parkinson’s disease in the first place.”

Dr. Brett Finlay of UBC said, “It drives home the connection between the gut and the brain for this disease. It also shows it’s not just one disease that healthy eating can affect, but several of these cognitive diseases.”

The researchers are now planning to examine the potential connection between the gut microbiome and its effect on the brain.

Dr. Metcalfe-Roach said, “There is so much benefit to eating healthy. It is in everybody’s best interest to try to keep your microbiome healthy, to try and eat a rich variety of plant-based and other healthy foods.”

“This study provides even more evidence for what we already know — that we should be trying to eat healthy and taking care of ourselves,” he added. The article was published in Science Daily.