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Many people may eat their way to dementia


By Denise Mann
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY 11 Nov. 2021 (HealthDay News) – Eat lots of fruits, vegetables, beans and other foods with infectioncooling properties can lower your chances of developing dementia as you get older.

But if your diet is loaded with pro-inflammatory foods, you may be up to three times more likely to experience memory loss and issues with language, problem solving, and other thinking skills as you get older, new research indicates.

“A less inflammatory diet is associated with less risk of developing dementia,” says study author Dr. Nikolaos Scarmeas, an associate professor of neurology at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens in Greece.

Exactly how, or even if, diet can help ward off and preserve dementia brain health is not yet fully understood. “Diet can affect brain health through many mechanisms, and according to our findings, inflammation may be one of them,” Scarmeas said.

For the study, more than 1,000 people in Greece (mean age: 73) completed a questionnaire to determine the inflammatory potential or score of their diet. No one had dementia when the study began. Six percent developed dementia during a follow-up of just over three years.

Diet inflammation scores range from -8.87 to 7.98, with higher scores indicating a more inflammatory diet. People with the lowest scores were less likely to develop dementia than people with higher scores, the study showed.

Every 1-point increase in dietary inflammatory score was associated with a 21% increase in dementia risk.

Those with the lowest scores have about 20 servings of fruits, 19 vegetables, 4 beans or other legumes, and 11 of coffee or tea Every week. In contrast, people with the highest scores ate about 9 servings of fruits, 10 vegetables, 2 legumes, and 9 coffees or teas per week.

It’s not the whole food per se, but all the nutrients it contains that contribute to its inflammatory potential, Scarmeas explained. Each food has both pro- and anti-inflammatory ingredients.

“Generally, a diet with more fruits, vegetables, beans, tea or coffee is a more anti-inflammatory one,” he said.

The study does not prove that eating an anti-inflammatory diet prevents brain aging and dementia, only that there is a link between them.

Longer follow-up is needed to draw any firm conclusions about how inflammatory diet counts affect brain health, Scarmeas warned.

The findings were published in the journal on November 10. Neurology.

Dr. Thomas Holland, a physician-scientist at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, reviewed the findings.

“This study gives further weight to the mechanism of inflammation – specifically neuro-inflammation – which many of us understand as one of the main players causing cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease dementia, ”he said.

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia.

For brain health, Holland recommends the MIND diet, the Mediterranean diet or the DASH diet. All three focus on lean meat, fish, whole grain, fresh produce and olive oil. The MIND (or Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay) diet combines elements of the Mediterranean and DASH diets and is specifically designed to help combat dementia.

So, what should you eat to help improve brain health? Holland presented his proposals.

“Berries, dark leaf greens, nuts, whole wheat, garlic, onions, peppers, tomatoes, extra pure olive oil, non-fried dark fish and poultry, ”he said.

These foods can reduce the intensity and / or duration of the inflammatory process in your body and brain, Holland said. Some act as antioxidant, which absorbs harmful free radicals and reduces inflammation.

“Avoiding a Western-type diet is also important, including reduced intake of whole-fat dairy, fried or fast foods, pastries and red meat,” he said.

Holland noted that pro-inflammatory foods can lead to uncontrolled inflammation and damage.

“If that damage occurs in the brain, there is the potential to develop dementia,” he said.

More information

File what’s new in dementia prevention at the Alzheimer’s Association.

SOURCES: Nikolaos Scarmeas, MD, Associate Professor, Neurology, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece; Thomas Holland, MD, MS, physician-scientist, Rush University, Chicago; Neurology, 10 Nov. 2021



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