Background: In old age, motor impairments including parkinsonian signs are common, but treatment is lacking for many older adults. In this study, we examined the association of a diet specifically developed to promote brain health, called MIND (Mediterranean-DASH Diet Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay), to the incidence and progression of parkinsonism in older adults.
Methods: A total of 706 Memory and Aging Project participants aged 59 -97 years and without parkinsonism at baseline were assessed annually for the presence of four parkinsonian signs using a 26-item modified version of the United Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale. Incident parkinsonism was defined as the first occurrence over 4.6 years of follow-up of two or more parkinsonian signs. The progression of parkinsonism was assessed by change in a global parkinsonian score (range: 0-100). MIND, Mediterranean, and DASH diet pattern scores were computed based on a validated food frequency questionnaire including 144 food items. We employed Cox-Proportional Hazard models and linear mixed models, to examine the associations of baseline diet scores with incident parkinsonism and the annual rate of change in global parkinsonian score, respectively.
Results: In models adjusted for age, sex, smoking, total energy intake, BMI and depressive symptoms, higher MIND diet scores were associated with a decreased risk of parkinsonism [(HR=0.89, 95% CI 0.83-0.96)]; and a slower rate of parkinsonism progression [(β= -0.008; SE=0.0037; p=0.04)]. The Mediterranean diet was marginally associated with reduced parkinsonism progression (β= -0.002; SE=0.0014; p=0.06). The DASH diet, by contrast, was not associated with either outcome.
Conclusion: The MIND diet created for brain health may be a associated with decreased risk and slower progression of parkinsonism in older adults.
Keywords: MIND diet; Parkinsonism; dietary pattern; longitudinal; motor decline.