About 42 million individuals around the world suffer from dementia and the most common type is Alzheimer’s disease.
Diet is a key risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease, the main culprits being sweets, meat, fried potatoes, white bread, eggs and high-fat dairy products.
However, a review of the research shows that low-fat dairy products, fish, beans/legumes, grains, nuts, fruits and vegetables can reduce the risk of cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s.
Unfortunately the Western diet is on the increase in different cultures, thereby increasing the risk of AD.
For example, the change from the traditional Japanese diet to the Western diet in Japan has proved costly.
After the transition, the Alzheimer’s rates in Japan increased from 1% in 1985 to 7% in 2008.
In addition, a new study on Alzheimer’s incidence from 10 countries suggests a dietary supply of meat or animal products (excluding milk which seems to reduce the risk) has the highest associations with AD.
These 10 countries were the United States, India, Egypt, Mongolia, Brazil, Cuba, Sri Lanka, Chile, Nigeria and Republic of Korea.
In the United States everyone has a 4% chance of developing AD showing the nation to be at particular risk.
This is partly because of the Western dietary pattern, which also includes a high consumption of meat.
Dr William B. Grant, the author of this review, said:
“…reducing meat consumption could significantly reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease as well as of several cancers, diabetes mellitus type 2, stroke, and, likely, chronic kidney disease.”
Dr Grant concluded:
“Mounting evidence from ecological and observational studies, as well as studies of mechanisms, indicates that the Western dietary pattern — especially the large amount of meat in that diet — is strongly associated with risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and several other chronic diseases.
Although the traditional Mediterranean diet is associated with about half the risk for Alzheimer’s disease of the Western diet, the traditional diets of countries such as India, Japan, and Nigeria, with very low meat consumption, are associated with an additional 50% reduction in risk of Alzheimer’s disease.”
The study was published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition (Grant, 2016).
Western food image from Shutterstock