Currently the rates of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) are rising worldwide. In the US, it is estimated that 3.1 million people have AD. Globally, about 42 million people now have dementia. AD is the most common type of dementia, accounting for at least 67% of dementia in the US.
The most important risk factors seem to be linked to diet. For example, when Japanese people change the traditional Japanese diet to the Western diet, AD rates rose from 1% in 1985 to 7% in 2008.
The Western diet is high in meat, sweets, and high-fat dairy products, all of which are associated with higher risk of Alzheimer’s disease. On the other hand, fruits, vegetables, grains, low-fat dairy products, beans, and fish may be protective against AD.
In a recent paper, researchers review previous findings and conduct a new ecological study to check the Alzheimer’s disease prevalence in 10 countries. They find that adding less meat in a diet could significantly reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and several other diseases.
The finding is published Journal of the American College of Nutrition. Researchers from the Sunlight, Nutrition, and Health Research Center conducted the study.
Researchers first check the evidence from ecological and observational studies and investigations of how diet can affect the risk of AD. It shows that increased oxidative stress (a detoxification problem) is related to higher risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
Oxidative stress can be increased by metal ions such as copper and by high-temperature cooking food.
In addition, high cholesterol levels, high insulin resistance, obesity, and low vitamin D levels are also associated with high risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
In the new ecological study, researchers checked the diet and Alzheimer’s disease prevalence in 10 countries (Brazil, Chile, Cuba, Egypt, India, Mongolia, Nigeria, Republic of Korea, Sri Lanka, and the US).
They found that diet focusing on meat had the highest correlation with Alzheimer’s disease prevalence. Therefore, eating less meat can help reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease as well as cancers, type 2 diabetes, stroke, and likely chronic kidney disease.
Citation: Grant WB. (2016). Using Multicountry Ecological and Observational Studies to Determine Dietary Risk Factors for Alzheimer’s Disease. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 35: 476. doi: 10.1080/07315724.2016.1161566.
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