A new study published in the journal Archives of Neurology suggests that there may be dietary changes that can help reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease. The study, conducted at Columbia University in New York, followed the diets of over two thousand adults over age 65 over a period of years; during the study, 253 developed Alzheimer’s.
During the study, participants provided information about their diets and were assessed for the development of Alzheimer’s every 1 1/2 years. After nearly four years, researchers identified a dietary pattern strongly associated with a lower risk of Alzheimer’s, characterized by a higher intake of salad dressing, nuts, fish, tomatoes, poultry, cruciferous vegetables (like broccoli, bok choy, and cauliflower), fruits, and leafy green vegetables, and a lower intake of high-fat dairy, butter, red meat and organ meat. Participants who adhered most closely to this dietary pattern had a 38% lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s compared to those who adhered least closely to this dietary pattern. The use of alcohol or dietary supplements did not affect risk levels in this study.
The brain protective diet was noted to be rich in omega-3 fatty acids, omega-6 fatty acids, vitamin E, and folate, and relatively lower in saturated fat and Vitamin B12. The study’s authors note that each nutrient likely aids in Alzheimer’s prevention in different ways. For example, vitamin E offers its strong antioxidant effect for the prevention of the disease, while omega-3 fatty acids may be related to dementia and cognitive function through an anti-inflammatory effect.
While the causes and effective treatment of Alzheimer’s disease are far from concrete, this latest research offers a promising, diet-based approach toward prevention of the disease. In the past, studies have focused on individual nutrients and their effects on patients. This study focused on dietary patterns of food high in nutrients associated with Alzheimer’s risk prevention, making it more applicable to everyday living.