A Western diet of red meat and ultra-processed food can significantly increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
A new study found that diets that included saturated fats can also cause Alzheimer’s, while certain fruits, vegetables and grains can help to protect against it.
The research shows which diets are helpful in reducing the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. The team found that diets that are more plant-based, like the Mediterranean diet and traditional diets in China, Japan, and India, are shown to reduce this risk, especially when compared to the Western diet.
They also identified dementia risk factors including higher consumption of saturated fats, meat, especially red meat such as hamburgers and barbecue as well as processed meats such as hot dogs, and ultra-processed foods high in sugar and refined grains.
They then analyzed the reasons why certain foods have an impact on our risk of dementia. For example, meat raises the risk of dementia the most by increasing risk factors such as inflammation, insulin resistance, oxidative stress and saturated fat.
This study, published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, also outlines several foods that are protective against Alzheimer’s disease, such as green leafy vegetables, colorful fruits and vegetables, legumes (like beans), nuts, omega-3 fatty acids, and whole grains.
Overall, their findings suggest that to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s it is important to avoid ultra-processed foods.
This is because ultra-processed foods can increase the risk of obesity and diabetes, themselves risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease, and they often lack the very ingredients found in whole plant foods that keep dementia away, such as anti-inflammatory components and antioxidants.
This explains the relationship between poverty and Alzheimer’s disease, as ultra-processed food is often much cheaper than the nutritional alternatives.
“Evidence from diverse perspectives support that a diet that emphasizes fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, whole grains, and…de-emphasizes meat, especially red meat, saturated fats, and ultra-processed foods is associated with lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease,” said Professor Edward Giovannucci, from Harvard University, Boston.
“Physical inactivity and obesity also contribute to higher risk.
“In addition, the dietary and lifestyle patterns associated with higher risk of Alzheimer’s disease are known to affect the constellation of mechanisms believed to increase risk, including inflammation, insulin resistance and oxidative stress, among others.
“While further research is needed to better understand the mechanisms, diet and lifestyle factors linked to diabetes, cardiovascular disease and some cancers are likely to influence risk of Alzheimer’s disease.” The results also suggest that Alzheimer’s disease rates in the US are projected to increase by 50 percent from 2018 levels by 2038.
They came to this conclusion after discovering a 20-year lag between obesity rates and Alzheimer’s disease rates. “The study provides a comprehensive review on the dietary and other factors that affect the risk of Alzheimer’s disease (AD),” said Dr. Paul Marik.
“Apart from the particular type of diet, they demonstrate that the consumption of red meat, insulin resistance, obesity, reactive oxygen species, and oxidative stress, phytochemicals and homocysteine amongst other factors interact with neuroinflammation and play a major role in the etiology of AD. “This treatise provides an excellent overview of modifiable risk factors for AD.”
Produced in association with SWNS Talker
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