Aussie foods tied to Alzheimer’s risk

Analyzing dietary patterns in Alzheimer's vs. healthy individuals.

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A recent study from Bond University found a strong connection between Alzheimer’s disease and daily consumption of meat-based and processed foods. Researchers looked at the diets of 438 Australians, including 108 with Alzheimer’s and 330 in a healthy group. 

People with Alzheimer’s often ate foods like meat pies, sausages, ham, pizza, and hamburgers. They also had lower intake of fruits and vegetables like oranges, strawberries, avocado, capsicum, cucumber, carrots, cabbage, and spinach. Additionally, their wine consumption, both red and white, was lower compared to the healthy group.

Alzheimer’s is a fatal form of dementia with no cure, affecting 1 in 10 Australians over 65, rising to 3 in 10 over 85. Dementia is the top cause of death and disability for Australians over 65. Tahera Ahmed, the study’s lead author, hopes the results will inspire young people to adopt healthier diets for brain protection later in life.

Tahera Ahmed said, “Alzheimer’s development in the brain begins in middle age, and its effects can be attributed to an uncontrolled lifestyle from a younger age. Raising awareness among the youth about the benefits of consuming leafy greens, organic foods, or home-cooked meals is essential, as opposed to regularly indulging in junk or processed foods.”

“Such dietary habits impact brain health and contribute to vascular issues and obesity, highlighting the interconnectedness of these health concerns.” She added.

Ms. Ahmed’s research on Alzheimer’s is personal, as her paternal grandmother and aunt suffered from the disease. Professor Kumar, her supervisor, also lost his father to Alzheimer’s. Reflecting on her family’s experience, Ms. Ahmed mentioned they initially thought it was just a dementia issue due to old age.

However, as she delved into Alzheimer’s research, she realized her grandma had all the symptoms. The study utilized data from the Australian Imaging Biomarker and Lifestyle Study of Aging, tracking a group since 2006 to observe Alzheimer’s development in some participants.

The study underscores the importance of understanding the role of dietary choices in Alzheimer’s risk. The hope is that these findings will contribute to scientific knowledge and encourage individuals, especially the younger population, to adopt healthier diets for long-term brain health. Further research may explore additional lifestyle factors linked to Alzheimer’s, expanding our understanding of preventive measures and potential interventions.

Journal reference:

  1. Tahera Ahmed, Ping Zhang, et al., Equilibrium of Dietary Patterns Between Alzheimer’s Disease Patients and Healthy People: A Comprehensive Analysis Using Multiple Factor Analysis and Classification Modeling. Journal of  Alzheimer’s Disease. DOI: 10.3233/jad-230634.

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