One of the main contributors to developing dementia is the presence of inflammation within the brain. What we choose to put into our bodies, from foods to medicines to substances, can cause accumulations of harmful inflammations. If we turn to our diets and choose foods which are bright with antioxidants, nutrients, and omega-3 fatty acids, our food choices can fight the inflammation within our bodies and inside our brains. As a study this past spring proved, it’s even down to the combinations of foods you choose which give you the power to help fight or fuel neuroinflammation.
In the journal Neurology, the diets of people with and without dementia were studied. Research found that people with dementia were more likely to eat processed meats such as sausages and cured meats like ham and bacon. However, people who did not develop dementia also ate these foods, but it was in the combinations of foods that they found the biggest differences.
People who developed dementia were more likely to eat their processed meats with starchy foods, namely potatoes, crackers, cookies, and cakes. The people who did not develop dementia tended to pair their processed meats with a wider variety of food groups, including fruits and vegetables. Those without dementia also ate more seafood—a great source of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids which have been shown to reduce inflammation and toxicity, even from air pollution.
These eating patterns had been established in both groups of people for several years before dementia was diagnosed, reinforcing that what we repeat daily adds up over the long run. If you or someone you know is battling dementia, be sure to speak with a doctor about how their nutrition might be impacting them.
It’s never too late to reduce the chance of dementia by incorporating a wider variety of foods into our diets, and at the very least, to make sure we space out those processed foods.
Cécilia Samieri, Abhijeet Rajendra Sonawane, et. al. Using network science tools to identify novel diet patterns in prodromal dementia. Neurology, 2020; 10.1212/WNL.0000000000009399