To reduce the risk of dementia, researchers suggest avoiding frequent consumption of processed meats and starchy food, like potatoes.
Various studies have revealed that eating a healthy that includes plenty of:
- whole grains
- leafy green vegetables
have benefits for brain health and lower the risk of cognitive impairment. The quantity of foods and how frequently they were consumed were in the focus of majority of those studies. Recently published research investigated which foods combined together increase the risk of developing dementia.
For the study, researchers enrolled over 600 people with an average age of 78. Participants had previously completed a food questionnaire 5 years ago, reporting what they ate throughout the year, and how frequently they consumed each type of food, from more than four times a day to less than once a month. They also attended medical checkups every 2 to 3 years.
Though there were few differences in the number of individual foods that participants ate, overall food groups varied significantly between those who had dementia and those who did not have it.
People with dementia frequently ate highly processed meats such as cured meats, sausages, and patés combined with starchy foods like potatoes, alcohol, and snacks like cakes and cookies. This means the frequency of processed meat is eaten with other unhealthy foods, rather than overall quantity, which may be essential for dementia risk.
For instance, while people without dementia preferred combining meat with more diverse foods, like vegetables and seafood, people that suffered from dementia were more likely to add potatoes when they were eating processed meat.
Additionally, findings showed that a more diverse diet, consisting of a variety of healthy foods, is associated with a lower risk of dementia in the future.
Lead study author Cécilia Samieri, Ph.D., of the University of Bordeaux in France, concludes: “In fact, we found differences in food networks that could be seen years before people with dementia were diagnosed. Our findings suggest that studying diet by looking at food networks may help untangle the complexity of diet and biology in health and disease.”