is the most common one.
These loaded healthy plant compounds combat age-related inflammation and thus aid in dipping the risk of neurodegenerative conditions like dementia by a third.
Exploring the Anti-Inflammatory Foods
The study team assessed 1059 older adults (65 years of age and above) based on questionnaires for their diet compatibility for anti-inflammatory foods. Following this, the participants were tracked over an average of three years.
The group was split into three with one-third of participants in each – those with the most anti-inflammatory diet, medium diet, and the least anti-inflammatory diet.
Based on the nutrient intake, the questionnaires’ scoring ranged from minus 8.87 for the most anti-inflammatory diet to 7.98 for the least. The higher the scores, the worst was the diet.
Diet and Cognition
It was found that around 62 people (6%) developed dementia among a total of 1,059 study participants.
In addition, people who had consumed the least anti-inflammatory diet had almost three times the risk of getting dementia, when compared to those who consumed a higher quantity of anti-inflammatory diet.
The group that consumed the most anti-inflammatory diet comprised of ~20 pieces of fruit, 19 servings of vegetables, 4 servings of legumes, and 11 cups of coffee or tea in the average week.
On the contrary, the group with the least anti-inflammatory diet consumed around only 9 pieces of fruit, 10 servings of vegetables, 2 servings of legumes, and 9 cups of coffee or tea during an average week.
Effects of Inflammatory Diet
Moreover, every one-point increase in the inflammatory score (for diet) was linked to a 21% rise in the dementia risk.
“These findings suggest that people could protect their brains by eating more healthily. There may be some potent nutritional tools in your home to help fight the inflammation that could contribute to brain ageing. Diet is a lifestyle factor you can modify, and it might play a role in combating inflammation, one of the biological pathways contributing to risk for dementia and cognitive impairment later in life,” says Dr. Nikolaos Scarmeas, MD, Ph.D., of National and Kapodistrian University of Athens in Greece, a Fellow of the American Academy of Neurology and senior author of the study.
The study thereby states that distinguishing and quantifying the inflammatory potential of diets may help tailor clear-cut dietary recommendations for better cognitive health.
What to Consume?
“This study is lending further weight to the mechanism inflammation — specifically neuro-inflammation — that much of us understand as being one of the main players in causing cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s dementia,” says Dr. Thomas Holland, a physician-scientist at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, who reviewed the findings.
Further to this, the scientist recommends the consumption of MIND (Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay – combination of the Mediterranean and DASH diets) diet for brain health.
These include lean meats, whole grains, fish (non-fried), olive oil, nuts, berries, dark leafy greens, garlic, onions, tomatoes, peppers, and poultry. The elements may act as antioxidants that help fight the accumulation of damaging free radicals and thus lower inflammation.
Simultaneously, it is equally important to avoid a Western-type diet pattern that includes fried or fast foods, whole-fat dairy, pastries, and red meat.
Eat Healthily, Stay Healthy!
Impacts of diet on the brain and overall health have long been reported through several pieces of research.
Earlier studies have found that the increased consumption of an inflammatory diet is linked to poorer memory and development of cognitive decline at a younger age. The present study thus shows promising results of anti-inflammatory diets on cognition.
However, as the study was observational and not a clinical trial, it fails to prove if the anti-inflammatory diet prevents cognitive decline and dementia and rather establishes an association.
“As people can change their diets, they might want to think about eating anti-inflammatory foods like fruit and vegetables and avoiding more inflammatory choices like very high-calorie foods. But more research is needed before specific dietary advice can be given, as this was not a clinical trial providing clear proof,” says the study.
Facts on Dementia
The risk of developing dementia increases with advancing age; however, dementia is not a part of normal aging.
There is no complete cure for dementia at present; nevertheless, earlier treatments may halt further progression.
There are over 850,000 dementia people in the UK among which more than 500,000 have Alzheimer’s disease currently as per The Alzheimer’s Society.
The dementia number is expected to rise over 1 million by 2025 in the UK.
Moreover, in the US, there are nearly 5.5 million Alzheimer’s patients that are also expected to rise in the approaching years.
Despite the improvements in diagnostic rates of dementia, the condition remains undiagnosed.
- Diet Inflammatory Index and Dementia Incidence: A Population-Based Study
- Cognitive decline potentially mitigated by an anti-inflammatory diet