Inflammation within the immune system tends to increase as people age, potentially leading to cell damage.
However, a potent means of reducing inflammation can be found not in medicine cabinets but in the refrigerator—by adopting an anti-inflammatory diet.
A recent study conducted at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens has revealed that individuals who follow an anti-inflammatory diet characterized by increased consumption of fruits, vegetables, beans, and tea or coffee have a lower risk of developing dementia in later life.
The study examined 1,059 individuals in Greece, with an average age of 73, who did not have dementia. Each participant completed a food frequency questionnaire, a common tool for assessing the inflammatory potential of one’s diet.
The questionnaire gathered information on various food groups consumed during the previous month, including dairy products, cereals, fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, legumes (such as beans, lentils, and peas), added fats, alcoholic beverages, stimulants, and sweets.
Based on the responses, participants received a dietary inflammatory score, with higher scores indicating a more inflammatory diet characterized by fewer servings of fruits, vegetables, beans, and tea or coffee.
Participants were categorized into three equal groups based on their dietary inflammatory scores: those with the lowest scores (indicating a more anti-inflammatory diet), those with medium scores, and those with the highest scores (indicating a more inflammatory diet).
For example, those in the lowest-scoring group consumed an average of 20 servings of fruit, 19 servings of vegetables, four servings of legumes, and 11 servings of coffee or tea per week.
In contrast, those in the highest-scoring group consumed significantly fewer servings of these anti-inflammatory foods.
Findings and Implications
Over the three-year follow-up period, 62 individuals (6%) developed dementia. The study’s results indicated that for each one-point increase in the dietary inflammatory score, there was a corresponding 21% increase in the risk of dementia.
Furthermore, participants in the highest-scoring group, who followed a more inflammatory diet, were three times more likely to develop dementia compared to those in the lowest-scoring group.
These findings have promising implications for characterizing and measuring the inflammatory potential of diets, which could inform tailored dietary recommendations and strategies to maintain cognitive health.
Adhering to an anti-inflammatory diet rich in fruits, vegetables, legumes, and tea or coffee appears to be associated with a reduced risk of developing dementia.
This study underscores the potential of dietary choices in promoting cognitive health and suggests the importance of personalized dietary recommendations to combat inflammation-related health conditions.
If you care about dementia, please read studies about People who take high blood pressure medications have lower dementia risk and findings of Early indicators of dementia: 5 behaviour changes to look for after age 50.
For more information about brain health, please see recent studies that high-fiber diet could help lower the dementia risk, and these antioxidants could help reduce dementia risk.
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