Is There a Link Between Diet and Dementia?

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POSTED ON: June 24, 2023

IS THERE A LINK BETWEEN DIET AND DEMENTIA? Three prospective cohort studies and a meta-analysis have shown that adherence to the MIND diet was associated with a lower risk of incident dementia in middle-aged and older adults, reported Changzheng Yuan, ScD, of Zhejiang University School of Medicine in China, and co-authors.

MedPage Today’s recent article, “Dementia Risk and Diet Investigated,” reports that in the analysis, the highest adherence to the MIND diet was tied to a 17% lower risk of dementia compared with the lowest adherence, the researchers reported in JAMA Psychiatry.

The MIND diet-- a hybrid of the Mediterranean and DASH diets – stresses eating plant-based foods, limits intake of animal-based foods and those high in saturated fat and promotes eating berries and leafy green vegetables.

The diet has been associated with slower cognitive decline. However, only a few large studies have looked at its relationship with dementia or Alzheimer's disease. For example, one analysis showed a significant relationship with lower dementia risk only in the first seven years of follow-up, not afterward.


The researchers looked at data from middle-aged and older adults in three large prospective studies: the U.K.'s Whitehall II cohort and, in the U.S., the Health and Retirement Study, and the Framingham Heart Study Offspring cohorts. They also conducted a meta-analysis of 11 observational studies.

Participants were dementia-free at baseline. Food frequency questionnaires at or before baseline were used to assess MIND diet scores, with higher scores on the 15-point scale indicating better adherence to the diet.

Whitehall II had about 8,400 participants (69% male) with a mean baseline age of 62. The Health and Retirement Study had about 6,800 participants (59% female) with a mean baseline age of 67, while the Framingham Offspring study had a sample size of about 3,000 (55% female) with a mean baseline age of 64.

Over 166,516 person-years, 775 people in the three cohorts developed incident dementia. A higher MIND diet score was linked with a lower risk of dementia. Associations were significant in the two U.S. cohorts but not in Whitehall II. Potential contributors included a higher consumption of green leafy and other vegetables, berries, nuts, olive oil, and beans and lower consumption of red meat and meat products.



Reference: MedPage Today (May 3, 2023) “Dementia Risk and Diet Investigated”

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