Dementia describes a range of symptoms relating to a decline in memory and other thinking skills that can reduce a person’s ability to perform daily tasks.
There are more than 350,000 Australians living with dementia.There are many types of dementia, with Alzheimer’s disease being the most common. Alzheimer’s causes problems with memory, thinking and behaviour. There is no cure and there are still many unknowns regarding causes. It’s thought that for most people, it is caused by a combination of genetic, lifestyle and environmental factors that affect the brain over time.
Diet is also thought to play an important role in the risk of dementia. The highest rates of dementia are found in those who consume high levels of red meat, junk food and full-fat dairy. At the other end of the spectrum, rates of dementia are very low in Japanese populations where people presumably largely follow a traditional Japanese diet.
A study investigated this association further in a range of countries with different eating patterns. Countries included Brazil, Chile, Cuba, Egypt, India, Mongolia, Nigeria, Korea, Sri Lanka and the USA. People living in the USA were found to have the highest risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and also had the highest intake of red meat. Red meat intake was found to be the most signi cant risk factor for developing Alzheimer’s disease in all of the countries studied.
This study adds further evidence that diet may play a role in protecting people against risk of dementia. A diet rich in fruit, vegetables, grains, low-fat dairy, legumes and sh was found to be protective against Alzheimer’s disease.
Reference: Grant, W B. Using multicountry ecological and observational studies to determine dietary risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease. Journal of the American College of Nutrition 2016; 35(5): 476 – 89.