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Could drinking a cup of tea or coffee every day reduce your risk of developing dementia? These are the results from a new Greek study, investigating how eating more anti-inflammatory foods might prevent neurodegenerative diseases. Here’s how changes to your diet could reduce your risk of dementia.
As research continues to develop a greater understanding of the causes and risk factors of dementia, studies are showing the impact your diet can have on your risk of developing dementia later in life.
Although there is no cure for dementia, according to the Alzheimer’s Society, just delaying the onset of the condition by five years could save 30,000 lives every year.
The biggest risk factor for developing dementia is ageing: one in six people over the age of 80 in the UK have the condition.
While ageing is inevitable, other risk factors such as diet and lifestyle can be controlled, and making changes to your diet could help to reduce your risk of developing dementia.
Researchers are discovering more about how your diet affects your risk of dementia every day, but at the moment dietary approaches that reduce inflammation and lower cholesterol show the most promise at tackling the condition.
A new study has found an anti-inflammatory diet – rich in fruits, vegetables, beans and tea or coffee – could lower your risk of dementia.
It’s good news for tea and coffee drinkers, as this study advocates for at least one cuppa every day: it found those who drank 11 cups of tea or coffee a week were at the lowest risk of developing dementia.
The reason tea and coffee are particularly prominent in this diet is because both drinks are noted for their anti-inflammatory properties.
Inflammation in the brain is associated with a higher risk of developing neurodegenerative diseases including dementia and Alzheimer’s, so diets focused on reducing inflammation in the body are thought to reduce this risk.
This study looked at participants over the course of three years, and analysed how inflammatory their diets were.
Those who ate the most inflammatory foods were found to be at highest risk of developing dementia; almost three times more likely than those who ate the least inflammatory diet.
The study even broke down exactly how many servings of different food types you should eat every week.
Here’s what the group with the least inflammatory diet, and lowest risk of dementia, ate every week:
- 20 servings of fruit (between two and three servings a day)
- 19 servings of vegetables (between two and three servings a day)
- Four servings of beans or legumes (every other day)
- 11 servings of coffee or tea (between one and two every day)
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What foods are high in inflammation?
Foods causing inflammation in the body can cause cell damage, whereas low-inflammatory foods help prevent this damage.
The type of foods causing inflammation tend to be highly-processed foods, such as fast food, sugary drinks and foods high in saturated fats.
The Mediterranean diet is credited with lowering inflammation and reducing the risk of cognitive decline, high cholesterol and heart disease.
This diet offers a great example by advocating for plant-based nutrient-rich foods, lean protein, beans and legumes.
The Mediterranean diet emphasises natural foods over processed ones, and ‘healthy fats’ such as olive oil, and those occurring naturally in foods like avocados and nuts.
The Alzheimer’s Society said: “There is some evidence eating a Mediterranean-style diet can reduce the risk of developing problems with memory and thinking, and getting some forms of dementia.
“Mediterranean diets are traditionally high in fruits, vegetables, legumes and cereals, with moderate consumption of oily fish and dairy, and low in meat, sugar and saturated fat.
“Most fat in this type of diet comes from olive oil, and alcohol is consumed in moderation with meals.”
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