Dementia: Doctor outlines changes to help prevent disease
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Eating plenty of fibre every day is the key to a happy and healthy gut. Dietary fibre is found in plant foods. It is not absorbed by the body and does not provide any energy, though it is vital in a balanced diet. There is strong evidence that eating plenty of fibre is related to a lower risk of heart disease, stroke, bowel cancer, and type 2 diabetes.
A recent study has now revealed that fibre could also play an important role in preventing dementia.
Researchers at the University of Tsukuba monitored more than 3,500 people over a period of two decades.
They found that adults who consumed more fibre, especially soluble fibre, were less likely to develop dementia.
The findings, the study suggested, could have something to do with the relationship between the gut and the brain.
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The author of the study, Professor Kazumasa Yamagishi, said: “We were interested in some recent research which suggested that dietary fibre may play a preventative role.
“We investigated this using data that were collected from thousands of adults in Japan for a large study that started in the 1980s.”
In 1985 and 1999, participants who were all generally healthy completed surveys that assessed their dietary intake.
Researchers then followed up with more surveys from 1999 to 2020, noting whether or not they had developed dementia symptoms that required care.
The research team went on to argue that there might be links between dietary fibre and the risk of dementia.
“One possibility is that soluble fibre regulates the composition of gut bacteria,” said Professor Yamagishi.
“This composition may affect neuroinflammation, which plays a role in the onset of dementia.”
Another hypothesis is that dietary fibre may reduce other risk factors for dementia, such as obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and high glucose levels.
“Dementia is a devastating disease that usually requires long-term care,” concluded Professor Yamagishi.
Although there is no cure for dementia, an early diagnosis in some cases could help to slow down the condition.
This means that a patient may be able to maintain mental functions for a longer period.
Early diagnoses also give patients, and the people close to them, time to find the right support and prepare for the future.
The damages and changes in the brain that come with dementia are often hard to predict.
Following a healthy diet, with a good amount of fibre in it, may help people live longer while reducing the risk of brain damage.
According to Government guidelines, dietary fibre intake for adults should increase to 30g a day.
A food product is considered to be high in fibre when it contains at least 6g of fibre per 100g.
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