Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Alzheimer's Disease Health Center

Font Size

Diet May Sway Alzheimer's Death Rate

Alzheimer's Disease Patients May Live Longer on Traditional Mediterranean Diet
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Sept. 11, 2007 -- Eating a traditional Mediterranean diet may help people with Alzheimer's disease live longer, a new study shows.

Traditional Mediterranean diets feature vegetables, legumes, fruits, grains, olive oil, fish, cheese, yogurt, wine with meals, and relatively little poultry or meat, note the researchers, who included Nikolaos Scarmeas, MD, of New York's Columbia University Medical Center.

Scarmeas and colleagues previously reported that people may be less likely to develop Alzheimer's disease if they follow a traditional Mediterranean diet.

Today, the researchers report that the Mediterranean diet may also have longevity benefits for Alzheimer's patients.

Data came from nearly 200 Alzheimer's patients in New York. The patients completed surveys about their dietary habits during the past year. They weren't asked to change their eating habits.

The patients were interviewed every 18 months. Those who most closely followed a Mediterranean diet lived the longest.

"Alzheimer's patients who adhered to the diet to a moderate degree lived an average 1.3 years longer than those people who least adhered to the diet. And those Alzheimer's patients who followed the diet very religiously lived an average of four years longer," says Scarmeas in a news release.

Alzheimer's disease affects memory. So the researchers tested the dietary survey on another group of people who didn't have dementia but later developed Alzheimer's disease. The link between the Mediterranean diet and lower death rates held.

The findings also held when Scarmeas and colleagues considered other factors, including age, ethnicity, level of education, BMI (body mass index), diabetes, heart disease, and genetic risk for Alzheimer's disease.

However, the researchers can't rule out other influences, so they call for other studies on the topic.

An editorial accompanies the study in today's edition of the journal Neurology.

Editorialist James Galvin, MD, MPH, of Washington University's medical school in St. Louis observes that physical exercise and mental stimulation may also benefit Alzheimer's patients -- and everyone else, too.

"It is interesting that considering all the medical and pharmaceutical advances made in the last century, perhaps the most important things we can still tell our patients, regardless of why they come to the office, is to stay mentally active and physically fit and to eat a healthy and balanced diet," writes Galvin.

Today on WebMD

Remember your finger
When it’s more than just forgetfulness.
senior man with serious expression
Which kinds are treatable?
senior man
Common symptoms to look for.
mri scan of human brain
Can drinking red wine reverse the disease?
eating blueberries
Colored mri of brain
Close up of elderly couple holding hands
mature woman
Woman comforting ailing mother
Senior woman with serious expression