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Dementia refers to a cluster of symptoms associated with brain decline. The most common cause of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease, a brain disorder that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills. It is commonly viewed as an inevitable result of the ageing process but this is a popular misconception. In fact, by taking steps earlier on, you can minimise cognitive decline in later life.
Research continues to illuminate our understanding of the link between diet and a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
One of the most promising findings was recently published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.
Researchers examined the role dietary decisions play on fluid intelligence (FI).
FI refers to the basic processes involved in abstract problem-solving without prior knowledge.
Greater age-related FI decline increases Alzheimer’s disease risk, and recent studies suggest that certain dietary regimens may influence rates of decline.
However, it is uncertain how long-term food consumption affects FI among adults with or without familial history of Alzheimer’s.
To fill in the gaps, researchers in the study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease examined how the total diet is associated with long-term cognition among mid-to-late-life populations at-risk and not-at-risk for Alzheimer’s.
Among 1,787 mid-to-late-aged adult UK Biobank participants, 10-year FI trajectories were modelled and mapped onto dietary decisions based on self-reported intake of 49 whole foods from a Food Frequency Questionnaire.
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UK Biobank is a large-scale biomedical database and research resource, containing in-depth genetic and health information from half a million UK participants.
After conducting their analysis, researchers found daily cheese intake “strongly” predicted better FI trajectory scores over time.
Surprisingly, alcohol of any type daily also appeared beneficial and “red wine was sometimes additionally protective”, they wrote.
What’s more, consuming lamb weekly was associated with improved outcomes.
“Among at-risk groups, added salt correlated with decreased performance,” the researchers added.
In their concluding remarks, the researchers said: “Modifying meal plans may help minimise cognitive decline.
“We observed that added salt may put at-risk individuals at greater risk, but did not observe similar interactions among FH [familial history of Alzheimer’s] and Alzheimer’s individuals.
“Observations further suggest in risk status-dependent manners that adding cheese and red wine to the diet daily, and lamb on a weekly basis, may also improve long-term cognitive outcomes.”
The symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease progress slowly over several years.
Sometimes these symptoms are confused with other conditions and may initially be put down to old age.
The rate at which the symptoms progress is different for each individual.
In some cases, other conditions can be responsible for symptoms getting worse.
“In the early stages, the main symptom of Alzheimer’s disease is memory lapses,” explains the NHS.
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