While the famed Mediterranean diet may have broad health benefits, its impact on cognitive decline differs among race-specific populations, according to a new study published by Ben-Gurion University of the Negev researchers in the Journal of Gerontology.

The team, which include nutrition and public health expert Prof. Danit R. Shahar, analyzed an US National Institute of Health/National Institute on Aging prospective study conducted over eight years in the US to measure the effects of adherence to a Mediterranean diet. The diet includes fewer meat products and more plantbased foods and monounsaturated fatty acids from olive and canola oil than a typical American diet.

To assess the association between the diet and cognitive impairment, the researchers used data of several Modified Mini-Mental State Examinations on 2,326 adults aged 70 to 79.

“In a population of initially well-functioning older adults, we found a significant correlation between strong adherence to the Mediterranean diet and a slower rate of cognitive decline among African-American, but not white, older adults.

Our study is the first to show a possible race-specific association between the Mediterranean diet and cognitive decline.”

The researchers note that further studies in diverse populations are necessary to confirm association between the Med diet and cognitive decline, and to pinpoint factors that may explain these results.

RESEARCHERS MAKE DUST MITE VACCINE

Many people with allergies suffer from the microscopic dust mites in their mattresses, carpets, sofas and other places around the house.

The annoying and ugly creatures live off dead skin cells cast off by the body. Now, help may be on the way.

They are found in 84 percent of households and trigger allergies and breathing difficulties among 45 percent of those who suffer from asthma. Prolonged exposure can cause lung damage.

Researchers at the University of Iowa have developed a vaccine that can combat dust-mite allergies by naturally switching the body’s immune response. In animal tests, the nano-sized vaccine package lowered lung inflammation by 83% despite repeated exposure to the allergens, according to the paper, published in the AAPS (American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists) Journal. One major reason why it works, the researchers contend, is because the vaccine package contains a booster that alters the body’s inflammatory response to dust-mite allergens.

“What is new about this is we have developed a vaccine against dust-mite allergens that hasn’t been used before,” said pharmaceutical sciences Prof. Aliasger Salem.

Existing treatment is limited to getting temporary relief from inhalers or undergoing regular exposure to build up tolerance, which is long term and has no guarantee of success.

“Our research explores a novel approach to vaccine- reduced lung inflammation to allergens in lab and animal tests treating mite allergy, in which specially-encapsulated miniscule particles are administered with sequences of bacterial DNA that direct the immune system to suppress allergic immune responses,” said University of Iowa Prof. Peter Thorne. “This work suggests a way forward to alleviate mite-induced asthma in allergy sufferers.”

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