***Diet and Dementia, are they connected?

The MIND diet was linked with reduced dementia risk, an analysis of observational studies concluded, though the researchers called for more investigations in different populations.

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 was 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.

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

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