Dr Hilary warns about missed dementia diagnoses in July
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The risk factors for dementia are wide-ranging, but there is overwhelming evidence that the tools at our disposal, notably diet, can do wonders for lowering our likelihood of brain decline. One Finnish researcher seeking to uncover how dietary patterns lower dementia risk, suggested that protection could be boosted when foods interact with each other.
The World Health Organisation insists that dementia is not an inevitable consequence of ageing and that a third of cases are preventable.
Certain people are predisposed to dementia because of their genetic build-up, but researchers insist healthy eating could lower their risk nonetheless.
In fact, dementia research to date has proven that up to 40 percent of cases could be prevented or delayed through lifestyle measures.
Of these, diet is constantly flagged as being an essential component.
READ MORE: Dementia: Five ‘warning’ signs in your personality – what is a normal age-related change?
According to one doctoral thesis, healthy dietary choices in midlife may prevent dementia in later years by up to 90 percent.
The results of the study showed that people aged 50 who followed a healthy diet were 90 percent less likely to go to develop dementia.
Components of healthy diets included vegetables, berries and fruits, fish, and unsaturated fat from milk products and spreads.
Unhealthy components on the other included sausages, eggs, sweets, sugary drinks, salty fish and saturated fats from milk.
The results add to a line of evidence that eating more anti-inflammatory foods can lessen the risk of dementia.
Miss Marjo Eskelinen, who presented the results as part of her doctoral thesis explained that previous studies have generally focussed solely on the effects of single foods.
“But nobody’s diet is based on one single food, and there may be interactions between nutrients, so it makes more sense to look at the entire dietary pattern,” pointed out Miss Eskelinen.
Miss Eskelinen went on to study the impact of dietary fat on cognitive performance.
Her findings revealed that a high intake of saturated fat led to poor mental agility in the 21-year follow-up period.
“Even those who are genetically susceptible can at least delay the onset of the disease by favouring vegetable oils, oil-based spreads and fatty fish in their diet,” noted miss Eskelinen.
This finding was echoed in a string of later studies, including a meta-analysis by the journal Current Alzheimer’s Research, which noted a “significant” association between high fat intake and dementia.
The authors of the analysis wrote that dietary saturated fat intake was “significantly” associated with a 39 percent and 105 percent risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, respectively.
Researchers point to cholesterol as the culprit behind this damage in the brain.
Notably, diets high in cholesterol and fat might speed up the formation of beta-amyloid plaques – one of the hallmarks of the disease.
These clusters of protein are believed to be responsible for the death of brain cells, resulting in memory loss.
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