Health officials in Western countries believe that the increasingly aging population that is developing as medical research leads to longer lives is going to lead to an explosion in Alzheimer’s disease over the next 20 years, as more and more people develop the condition who in the past would most likely not have lived long enough to experience the debilitating disease. The good news is that according to a new study, published this week in the online edition of Archives of Neurology is that research shows that diet can significantly lower your odds of developing Alzheimer’s.
The authors of this study followed over 2000 people over aged 65 free of Alzheimer’s in New York and assessed their diets. Study participants provided information about their typical diets and were assessed for the development of dementia every 1.5 years. Dementia, the most common cause being Alzheimer’s disease, describes progressive symptoms such as memory loss, mood changes and a decline in the ability to talk, read and write caused by damage or changes to the brain.
The authors were able to identify a dietary pattern that had a significant association with protection against Alzheimer’s. Those who ate the identified style of eating had 38% risk reduction in acquiring the disease. The dietary pattern they identified was rich in:
- Salad dressing (olive oil and balsamic)
- Nuts, such as walnuts and pecans
- Salmon and fish
- Cruciferous vegetables (such as broccoli, brussels sprouts, and cauliflower,arugula, bok choy, collards, kale, mustard greens, rutabaga, turnip greens, and watercress)
- Dark and green leafy vegetables
They also had a lower intake of:
- High fat dairy
- Red meat
- Organ meat
Eating a variety of healthy, nutrient-rich foods and, at the same time, minimizing your intake of foods that may harm the brain is what seems to matter most when it comes to reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. These findings add to a growing body of evidence that suggests what you eat to protect yourself from heart disease are the same foods that can keep your brain healthy. A healthy diet can prevent Type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol and hypertension, risk factors that damage blood vessels that have also been linked to a greater risk of Alzheimer’s disease.