A detailed study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease November 3, 2023, shows which diets are helpful in reducing the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
Diets that are more plant based, like the Mediterranean diet and traditional diets in China, Japan, and India, are shown to reduce risk, especially when compared to the Western diet. Alzheimer’s disease rates rise in these countries as they make the nutrition transition to the Western diet. This study identifies dementia risk factors including higher consumption of saturated fats, meat, especially red meat such as hamburgers and barbeque as well as processed meats such as hot dogs, and ultra-processed foods high in sugar and refined grains.
This review also lets us know why certain foods increase or reduce risk of Alzheimer’s disease. For example, meat raised risk of dementia the most by increasing risk factors such as inflammation, insulin resistance, oxidative stress, saturated fat, advanced glycation end products, and trimethylamine N-oxide. This study also outlines several foods that are protective against Alzheimer’s disease, such as green leafy vegetables, colorful fruits and vegetables, legumes (like beans), nuts, omega-3 fatty acids, and whole grains.
Ultra-processed foods can increase the risk of obesity and diabetes, themselves risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease. Ultra-processed foods often lack the very ingredients found in whole plant foods that keep dementia away, such as anti-inflammatory components and antioxidants.
The paper also suggests that Alzheimer’s disease rates in the US are projected to increase by 50% from 2018 levels by 2038. This calculation is based on comparing trends of obesity in the US with Alzheimer’s disease trends. This comparison shows a 20-year lag between obesity rates and Alzheimer’s disease rates.