Researchers have recently studied the link between inflammatory foods and the risk of dementia in older people, and found that those consuming highly inflammatory diets were over three times more likely to develop dementia than those consuming anti-inflammatory diets.
Chronic low-grade inflammation is seen in people’s immune systems as they get older. This age-related inflammation has been linked to dementia and cognitive decline.
According to Medical News Today, the immune system increases the production of pro-inflammatory mediators, in what is known as “inflammaging,” which can go to the central nervous system and in turn reduce brain-derived neurotrophic factor levels. These levels supports grown, maturation, and maintenance of neurons.
While inflammaging is known to happen with aging, certain foods may worsen it.
“Diet is a lifestyle factor you can modify, and it might play a role in combating inflammation, one of the biological pathways contributing to risk [of] dementia and cognitive impairment later in life,” study author Dr. Nikolaos Scarmeas, told Medical News Today.
Research suggests that different foods can affect rates of inflammation.
Foods that may cause inflammation include processed foods, sugar, unhealthy oils, alcohol, and too much red meat. On the other hand, anti-inflammatory diets include fish, fruits, vegetables, tea, legumes, nuts and seeds.
Dr. Thomas Holland, a physician-scientist at Rush University Medical Center, suggests eating dark leafy greens, berries, garlic, onions, peppers, tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil, non-fried dark fish, and poultry.
He explains that these types of foods may decrease the strength of the inflammatory process in your body and brain.
During the study, the diets of more than 1,000 older people without dementia in Greece were examined. In just over three years, six percent of them developed dementia.
It’s worth noting that the study was an observational one, not a clinical trial. Although it shows an association between certain foods and dementia, it doesn’t prove that eating an anti-inflammatory diet prevents dementia.
Researchers say longer follow-up is needed to find out exactly how inflammatory diet score affects brain health.