Men were observed to derive benefit from a Greek Mediterranean diet and women were found to generally adhere more closely to diet interventions than men.
Silke Cresswell-Appel, MD
Data from a recent study suggest that Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay (MIND) and variants of Mediterranean diets can delay the age of onset of Parkinson disease (PD). These associations differed between sexes.
Women were found to benefit most from the MIND diet, with those in the high dietary tertile experiencing differences of up to 17.4 years (P <.01) in onset age of PD when compared to women in the low dietary tertile. Men benefitted most from the Greek Mediterranean (GM) diet, with men in the high dietary subgroup experiencing differences of up to 8.4 years (P = .02) in onset age of PD when compared to men in the low dietary tertile.
“We have captured a strong, female‐driven correlation between MIND diet adherence and delayed PD onset in a manner similar or superior to the GM diet. The sex specificities presented here are novel and may prove to be an important contributor to the sex differences observed in PD,” wrote senior author Silke Cresswell-Appel, MD, associate professor, University of British Columbia, and colleagues.
Cresswell-Appel and colleagues analyzed data from 167 patients with PD with an average age of 64.9 years (standard deviation [SD], 8.0) and an average PD onset at 6.5 years (SD, 3.1) prior to the study. Men made up 68.3% (n = 114) of the total patients. Control participants were 39.3% (n = 33 out of 84) male with an average age of 61.8 years (SD, 9.9).
Patients with PD who were older and had later age of onset had higher adherence to all diets; these correlations remained significant for men in the GM and Mediterranean (MEDI) diets and women in the MIND diet. Age was not significantly associated with any dietary score in the control groups.
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“Given the findings presented here and in previous articles, individuals should be encouraged to eat a diet rich in fresh vegetables, whole grains, and healthy oils while limiting their intake of dairy, red meat, and sugary/processed foods. These dietary habits should be promoted from an early age, as prodromal features of PD and other neurodegenerative disorders can manifest decades before official diagnosis,” the authors wrote.
Cresswell-Appel and colleagues found the strongest correlation between women with high adherence to the MIND diet and later PD onset (difference between high and low tertile [E], 15.6–17.4; P ≤.003). Adherence to the MIND diet was not significantly correlated to PD onset age in men (E, 3.6–7.4; P = .21–.01) and no other diet in any other subgroup had as strong a correlation (E, 15.6–10.8; P <.25).
There was also a significant but weaker association between women in the GM diet and age of PD onset (E, 8.4–9.8; P = .05–.03). The GM diet correlated most consistently with age of PD onset in men (E, 6.2–8.4; P =.02–.002). Across all models and subgroups, the MIND diet (E, 3.6–7.4; P = .21–.01) and MEDI diet (E, 4.6–6.4; P = .15–.03) were only weakly correlated with age of PD onset.
“It is currently unknown whether there are critical time windows in which dietary habits are particularly influential on brain health. Overall, these data paint a compelling rationale for interventional and animal‐based studies that investigate the direct impact of Mediterranean‐style diets on PD etiology in a sex‐specific manner. This study should be repeated in a larger, preferably prospective cohort to confirm these findings. Future work will investigate the effect of the diet on other PD symptoms including gut microbial dysbiosis, disease progression, constipation, cognition, and other factors,” Cresswell-Appel and colleagues concluded.