What you eat every day may dictate your Alzheimer’s disease risk

SAN FRANCISCO — The right diet can help stave off dementia, according to new collaborative research. Even better, the report even tells us which foods we should include with breakfast, lunch, and dinner to best support the brain. The new study concludes that diets emphasizing plants, such as the Mediterranean diet or traditional diets seen in China, Japan, and India, appear to reduce Alzheimer’s disease risk, especially when compared to a fattier, more processed Western diet.

In this article we’ll share the important findings of this study, which is published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. We also include a table of the suggested foods (and their anti-Alzheimer’s properties) to help ward off dementia. You can find this at the bottom of the post.

The global prevalence of Alzheimer’s is alarming. Current estimates indicate that approximately 32 million people suffer from Alzheimer’s, and a staggering 315 million showing preclinical signs. These numbers represent 22% of individuals aged 50 or older, marking Alzheimer’s as a major health challenge worldwide.

It’s been documented in the past that rates of Alzheimer’s, considered the most common form of dementia, tend to increase in nations as they make the nutritional transition to the Western diet. Now, this new project identifies dementia risk factors such as higher consumption of saturated fats, meat (especially red meat like hamburgers and barbeque), processed meat (hot dogs), and ultra-processed foods high in both sugar and refined grains.


Key takeaways:

  • Healthy Eating Patterns: A healthful diet is crucial, with evidence suggesting it can halve the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Rice-Based Diets: Lower risk associated with rice-based diets, compared to high-fat and high-energy diets.
  • Meat Consumption: Strong correlation between meat consumption and increased Alzheimer’s disease risk.
  • Fish and Omega-3s: Inversely related to Alzheimer’s disease, likely due to their beneficial fatty acids.
  • Key Nutrients: High intake of folate, vitamins E and C, and fish consumption are associated with reduced Alzheimer’s risk.
  • Scroll down to bottom for a list of additional foods that can help prevent dementia

Best diets to prevent Alzheimer’s disease

Studies show that adherence to a nutritious diet can even halve the risk of developing the disease. Key elements of such a diet include high intakes of folate, vitamins E and C, and fish, all linked to reduced Alzheimer’s risk. Researchers say the Mediterranean, DASH, and MIND diets, as well as rice-based diets are great examples of regimens inversely associated with dementia risk. These diets are rich in antioxidants, anti-inflammatory agents, and healthy fats, offering significant protective effects on brain health.

These findings illustrate why certain foods increase or reduce the risk of dementia. For instance, eating meat was found to increase one’s risk of dementia the most by increasing risk factors including inflammation, insulin resistance, oxidative stress, saturated fat, advanced glycation end products, and trimethylamine N-oxide.

Alzheimer's disease symptoms
A look at Alzheimer’s disease symptoms. (Image by Irina Strelnikova on Shutterstock)

Study authors highlight several foods that appear to offer protection against Alzheimer’s, such as green leafy vegetables, colorful fruits and vegetables, legumes (like beans), omega-3 fatty acids, whole grains, and nuts. Scroll down for a complete look at anti-dementia foods for your diet.

Ultra-processed foods have long been linked to an increased risk of obesity and diabetes, themselves risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease. Ultra-processed foods usually lack the ingredients seen in whole plant foods that keep dementia away (anti-inflammatory components, antioxidants).

Meanwhile, poverty is another noted driver of Alzheimer’s disease in the United States because ultra-processed foods and meat are cheaper sources of energy than fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and most other nutritious foods.

Being mindful about your food is best for your mind

All in all, this paper disturbingly suggests that by 2038 Alzheimer’s disease rates in the United States may increase by as much as 50 percent in comparison to levels seen in 2018. This calculation was based on comparing trends of obesity in the U.S. with Alzheimer’s disease trends, and that comparison revealed a two-decade lag between obesity rates and Alzheimer’s disease rates. Interestingly, that estimate in particular is quite close to an estimate published by the Alzheimer’s Association in 2018 (an estimated 56% increase). This paper’s prediction indicates that the rising trend of obesity, due to consumption of meat and ultra-processed foods, is the driving force behind dementia.

This study was conducted by William B. Grant of the Sunlight, Nutrition, and Health Research Center, San Francisco, and Steven M. Blake Nutritional Neuroscience, Maui Memory Clinic, Wailuku, Hawaii.

“Grant and Blake comprehensively review and synthesize the role of dietary factors in Alzheimer’s disease. Evidence from diverse perspectives support that a diet that emphasizes fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, whole grains, and…de-emphasizes meat, especially red meat, saturated fats, and ultra-processed foods is associated with lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Physical inactivity and obesity also contribute to higher risk,” says Edward Giovannucci, MD, ScD, Professor of Nutrition and Epidemiology, Harvard University, in a media release.

Best foods to prevent Alzheimer’s disease

Food Source Bioactive Components Mechanisms and/or Effects
Blackberries, red grapes Resveratrol Antioxidant, cytoprotective, neuroprotective
Coffee Caffeic acid Memory and learning improvement, free radical reduction, tau protein and AβPP expression reduction, synaptic protein expression increase
Fish, especially cold-water ocean Omega-3, docosahexaenoic acid (22:6n-3) Membrane function effects, neurotransmitter modulation
Fish, especially cold-water ocean Vitamin D Hormone effects, amyloid production reduction, clearance increase
Fruits, vegetables (yellow, orange, red) Carotenoids, e.g., leutein and zeaxanthin Oxidative stress reduction, antioxidant enzyme increase, neurogenesis
Fruits, vegetables (red, violet, blue) Anthocyanins Oxidative stress reduction, inflammation reduction, tau protein aggregation reduction, neuronal apoptosis reduction
Garlic Allicin, other bioactive compounds Inflammation reduction, oxidation reduction, neuroprotection
Legumes Polyphenols, peptides, saponins, and carotenoids Cell membrane receptor interaction, key enzyme inhibition
Legumes Folate Hcy reduction
Nuts, almond, hazelnut and walnut Phenolic acid, e.g., Caffeic acid Aβ-induced toxicity protection, tau phosphorylation reduction
Nuts, almond, hazelnut and walnut Non-flavonoids, e.g., lignans Aβ-induced neurodegeneration amelioration, oxidative stress protection, anticholinesterase activity, inflammatory signaling pathway inhibition
Nuts, almond, hazelnut and walnut Flavonoids, e.g., quercetin Aβ 1–42-induced cytotoxicity, protein oxidation, lipid peroxidation and apoptosis attenuation
Olive oil Oleuropein, Oleocanthal Antioxidant, nerve cell protection, Aβ level reduction, Aβ aggregation prevention, glutaminyl cyclase expression reduction, inflammation reduction, Aβ aggregation reduction, Aβ clearance modulation
Peppers Capsaicin Tau deposition, apoptosis, and synaptic dysfunction attenuation
Soy products Genistein Oxidative stress reduction, mitochondrial protection, apoptosis reduction, inflammation amelioration, Aβ synthesis reduction, senile plaque formation reduction
Spices Cinnamon, ginger, pepper, saffron Inflammation suppression, antioxidant, acetylcholinesterase and Aβ aggregation inhibition
Turmeric, e.g., curry power Curcumin Aβ aggregation prevention, neuron protection, synaptic function improvement
Vegetables, cruciferous Isothiocyanates Antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, acetylcholinesterase activity suppression
Vegetables, green leafy Folate, lutein, phylloquinone Hcy reduction, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory
Whole grains Phenolic acids Antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial

Adds Dr. Paul Marik, Chairman and Co-Founder of the Front Line COVID-19 Critical Care Alliance: “Apart from the particular type of diet they demonstrate that the consumption of red meat, insulin resistance, obesity, reactive oxygen species, and oxidative stress, phytochemicals and homocysteine amongst other factors interact with neuroinflammation and play a major role in the aetiology of Alzheimer’s. This treatise provides an excellent overview of modifiable risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease.”

Comments

      1. This article never states the title of “the study” or who the “researchers” are…not that the things stated here might not be true, but there’s simply nothing specific here; just anecdotal…

      2. Airplane exhaust, sure it’s a nonhealthy air pollutant along with the smoke from all supersized fires worldwide caused by climate change. Certainly can’t be good for mental health, even in an indirect way like side effects from drugs needed to treat lung problems caused by air pollution if not directly by toxins being put in the air.

    1. They fill our skies with aluminum particles and barium and other metals that is found in the soil where none existed, and then want us to eat mrna tainted veggies. Other countries don’t subject their citizens to the horrors of the U.S.. 97% of all fluoridated people are found in the U.S.. They are desperately trying to kill us. I am not giving up the fat that my brain needs to stay healthy. My great grandfather ate a lard and onion sandwich daily and lived to 99 with no mental decline.

  1. if you are going to say “studies” and then speak of a specific study, could you provide a citation or link? especially in a website that is “study Finds”.

  2. “Diet-induced factors associated with a significant risk of AD include inflammation, insulin resistance, oxidative stress, elevated homocysteine, dietary advanced glycation end products, and trimethylamine N-oxide.” Hmmm, all of these are reduced on the carnivore diet which is high in saturated fat and low on carbs, processed foods and polyunsaturated fats. I cannot agree that saturated fats are unhealthy. It is the polyunsaturated fats that are evil.

  3. Writing that red meat and the saturated fat that comes with it causes “ inflammation, insulin resistance, oxidative stress, saturated fat, advanced glycation end products, and trimethylamine N-oxide” is an outright LIE. Red meat (without bread -you do know these “studies” say lasagna, pizza, and hamburgers with buns red meat?) does the exact opposite. This is political/religious claptrap and if doctors expect to be taken seriously in the future they should stop lying to people. Eating the way this article recommends may get unethical doctors more gullible customers but they are losing trust among those seeking honest advice.

    1. I’m sorry you feel that way Bruce but some of us follow the science. Its been well established that diets high in red meat, saturated fats, and chemical processing are harmful. Comparative analysis that looks at areas of the world and contrast diets to see how food affects health is well established. No one is saying “Don’t eat red meat” they are merely suggesting some old wisdom: Everything in Moderation.”

    2. After the last few years I have no idea how anyone can take our medical institutions seriously, because clearly all they care about is keeping the gravy train of patients coming in. They don’t actually want to make people get better, because that hurts their bottom line. The fact that the vast majority of doctors and nurses went along with the natural immunity lie during the pandemic should be evidence enough to everyone that our medical institutions can not be trusted.

    3. I noticed that too. Hal Cranmer, who owns several elderly nursing facilities in Arizona is putting the dementia of residents into remission using an animal based keto diet. Not to mention the results thousands of people are experiencing on a high fat meat diet. But they are trying to tell us that meat causes dementia.

    4. i agree. it all depends on how the meat is cooked. for instance, barbecued meat is the absolute worst, full of carcinogens like AGE’s, acrelymide, heterocyclic amines and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. The best way to cook meat is on low heat for multiple hours, in water (with spices). if the meat is burnt in any way, it becomes increasingly carcinogenic. its also funny that another Studyfinds article actually lauds meat for being healthier than thought due to its content of trans-vaccenic acid (the trans version of the omega-7 fatty acid cis-vaccenic acid), which lowers inflammation (cancer?) and cholesterol!

    5. 100% red meat from ruminate animals is the most biologically correct food for us to eat. We have a highly acidic stomach like other scavengers and carnivores, the size of our large and small intestines are reversed when compared to a chimpanzee or great aps that are herbivores. Humans need meat.

    6. While some meat is good for you and contains enzymes that help the brain, consuming mostly red-meat has been proven bad for very parts of your body in many studies over the years. When you start trying to throw conspiracy theories around it becomes hard to believe anything you say.

  4. Good article but no one seems to be talking about the correlation between the massive and often increases in BP and cholesterol prescriptions that are also impacting dementia and Alzheimer’s. And no one is talking about homeopathic remedies that can greatly improve health without harmful side effects.

  5. The Proper Human Diet Carnivore lifestyle reverses bothe Diabetes and Dementia! The SAD Diet on the other hand causes those and other unhealthy conditions! Go to Dr. Ken Berry’s you tube channel for more information.

  6. My mother started getting dementia right after she was diagnosed as a type 2 diabetic. She was a cook & baker. She loved carbs and used saccharine tabs in her coffee every day for decades and lots of diet soda.. It was a 13 year goodbye. Carbs and artificial sugars are the worst.

  7. I presume Hcy is homocystine but it would be nice if the authors would not use cryptic abbreviations. Abbreviations, acronyms, etc. should be defined when first used.

  8. The red meat/insulin resistance quickly caught my eye. Quite a stretch for IR to be linked to just mean. I think you’re spot on with the comment. I’m assuming they are adding what you eat with red meat: bread, buns, fries, baked potatoes, etc.

  9. I am participating in the beginning stages of an Alzheimer’s clinical trial. I have had Parents with Alzheimer’s and other relatives. Turns out age is more of a factor than genetics.
    A Mediterranean diet certainly can help just like in helping prevent heart disease who wouldn’t think it would help prevent Alzheimer’s also. Eating bad greasy fatty food which usually consists of Meats, Dairy and oils leads to earlier death is there any doubt.

  10. Buying fast food & ultra processed food is NOT cheaper than buying raw vegetables, eggs, nuts, whole milk, whole grains and bulk fruit. Watch the commercials during televised sporting events and you can see what the government and large corporations want you to spend your money on. Pizza, fried chicken, tacos and diet soda. Expensive and deadly over the course of a human’s life.

  11. Weird how just now humans are getting more dementia “from meat” when the human diet has always included meat. What is being done to our meat nowadays? Is it really the cause? Is it the increase in obesity nationwide? Years ago I heard someone say that Alzheimer’s was Type 3 Diabetes because of insulin resistance from all the carbohydrates we eat. That makes more sense than meat being the culprit.

  12. Why should we trust any study put forth after the CDC lies? Seriously, it’s really convenient for red meat to be a problem just when the climate cultists are saying we shouldn’t eat meat. As for processed foods, that’s been known for decades.
    There are indigs who eat nothing but meat who don’t have these issues. Your hypothesis never seem to take these people into account. There’s a lot of “science” that appears and is driven by politics. I suggest you try a different profession, as you’re not convincing. I stay anon to not get doxxed

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *