Your Health: Diet and dementia

Published: Apr. 11, 2023 at 5:21 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - More than six million people in the United States, 65 and older, have dementia.

By 2050, that number is expected to double to nearly 13 million. But a series of new studies reveals you may be able to reduce your dementia risk with the foods you choose to eat.

“The gut influences very heavily the whole body physiology,” said Dr. Hariom Yadav.

And now new research suggests many people may be eating their way to dementia. The main culprit is ultra-processed foods, like fast foods, chips, frozen meals and pop. Researchers in Brazil found those who got 20% or more of their daily calorie intake from these processed foods had a 28% faster rate of cognitive decline than those who ate less processed foods. That means in a standard diet of 2,000 calories a day, 400 calories worth of processed foods can cause a lot of damage - but there is good news.

“If you eat the right diet, you can reduce that risk,” Yadav said.

You can still eat a lot of unprocessed foods such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains to combat that risk. A study from Rush University Medical Center found those who closely followed something called the Mind Diet for four and a half years - which focuses on eating mainly vegetables, fish, chicken and whole grains - reduced their risk for Alzheimer’s by 53%. Giving you some food for thought.

Experts said a whopping 58%of what Americans eat comes from ultra-processed foods. Even plant-based alternatives - like plant-based meat - are still highly processed. So since it may be impossible to cut out processed food entirely, it’s best to focus on adding unprocessed foods instead of cutting out processed foods.

Subscribe to our News 10 newsletter and receive the latest local news and weather straight to your email every morning.