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Healthy diet can cut risk of Alzheimer's

Nutrient combination important

Eating more fish, poultry, fruit, vegetables and nuts and less red meat, offal and butter and other high fat dairy foods may reduce your risk of Alzheimer's disease, new research has found.

A team of researchers from Columbia University Medical Centre, New York, studied the diets of 2,148 adults aged 65 and older living in the city for a four year period. During this time 253 people developed Alzheimer's disease.

When the results were analysed, they found that people who ate the most salad dressing, nuts, fish, tomatoes, poultry, fruits and cruciferous (e.g brooccoli and cauliflower) and dark and green leafy vegetables and the least high-fat dairy foods, red meat, offal and butter were much less likely to develop dementia.

However, the researchers also said the combination of nutrients in the low-risk diet was also important.

Foods rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, folate and vitamin E were key components of the low risk diet.

This could be because the different nutrients affect different pathways in the development of dementia, the researchers said.

Vitamin E and folate may help prevent Alzheimer's disease by reducing the levels of homocysteine in the blood, which has been linked to the condition, and vitamin E might have a protective effect as it is a strong antioxidant.

Conversely, saturated fats may increase the risk of dementia as they are linked to the formation of blood clots and inflammation.

Commenting on the study, Rebecca Wood, Chief Executive of the Alzheimer’s Research Trust, said: “Understanding the connection between diet and dementia risk may help prevent the development of diseases like Alzheimer’s for some people.

"Adapting our lifestyles as we get older – by exercising regularly, watching what we eat and maintaining an active social life – can reduce dementia risk.

"Unfortunately, no diet or lifestyle factor can eliminate dementia risk entirely.

“35 million people worldwide live with Alzheimer’s and other dementias, a number set to grow rapidly. We must invest in dementia research to develop new treatments for this devastating set of diseases.”

The research is published online in the Archives of Neurology.

This article was published on Tue 13 April 2010



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