A study conducted by scientists in China, Japan, and India suggests that plant-based and traditional diets may reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, especially when compared to the Western diet.
In these countries, researchers from the Sunlight, Nutrition, and Health Research Center, US, found that Alzheimer’s disease rates rise as they adopt Western diets.
The study, published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, discusses in detail the role of diet in modifying Alzheimer’s disease risk.
A number of risk factors are identified in the study, including saturated fats, red meat, particularly hamburgers and barbeque, as well as processed meats, such as hot dogs, and ultra-processed foods containing sugars and refined grains.
Also discussed in this review is why certain foods increase or reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
By increasing inflammation, insulin resistance, oxidative stress, saturated fat, advanced glycation end products, and trimethylamine N-oxide, meat increases the risk of dementia the most.
The study also identifies a number of foods that have been shown to be protective against Alzheimer’s disease, such as green leafy vegetables, colourful fruits and vegetables, legumes (like beans), nuts, and omega-3 fatty acids.
According to the researchers, ultra-processed foods can increase the risk of obesity and diabetes, both of which are risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease.
These researchers noted that ultra-processed foods often lack the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant components found in whole plant foods.
”Evidence from diverse perspectives support that a diet that emphasises fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, whole grains, and de-emphasises meat, especially red meat, saturated fats, and ultra-processed foods is associated with lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease,” said Edward Giovannucci, Professor of Nutrition and Epidemiology, Harvard University.
”Physical inactivity and obesity also contribute to higher risk. In addition, the dietary and lifestyle patterns associated with a 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,” Giovannucci, who was not involved in the study, said.