“Dementia Runs In My Family. Does Food Affect MY Risk?”

New York researchers reported in Archives of Neurology this month that a particular eating pattern does seem to lower the risk of Alzheimers Disease, the most common type of dementia.  Manhattanites were significantly less likely to develop dementia if they had . . .

Higher consumption of:

  • salad dressing
  • nuts
  • tomatoes
  • fish
  • poultry
  • cruciferous vegetables (e.g., cabbage, radish, broccoli, kale, collard greens, cauliflower, turnips, brussels sprouts)
  • fruits
  • dark and green leafy vegetables

Lower consumption of:

  • high-fat dairy products
  • red meat
  • organ meats
  • butter

The study involved over 2000 people over age 65 who were followed for the onset of dementia over four years.  The researchers used a sophisticated analytic technique called “reduced rank regression.”  See the original article for details.

The study authors note similarities of this dietary pattern to the Mediterranean diet, long associated with lower risk of dementia.  They also document (again) the strong association of moderate alcohol consumption with lower dementia risk, although it was not part of their predetermined anaylytic technique.

Alzheimers Dementia has a strong tendency to run in some families.  As lifespans increase, we’re going to be seeing lots more of it.  If you make it to age 85, your odds of having dementia are 50:50.

If you worry about developing Alzheimers, perhaps because of family history, you may be doing yourself and others a favor by adopting either the dietary pattern above or the Mediterranean diet.

On the other hand . . .

MedPageToday on April 28, 2010, reported the conclusions of a panel convened by the (U.S.) National Institutes of Health:

The independent panel . . . determined that the causes of Alzheimers disease are still unknown and that no reliable evidence has shown that anything can prevent the disease or stop it from progressing.

Steve Parker, M.D.

Disclaimer:  All matters regarding your health require supervision by a personal physician or other appropriate health professional familiar with your current health status.  Always consult your personal physician before making any dietary or exercise changes.

References: 

Gu, Yian, et al.  Food combination and Alzheimer Disease riskArchives of Neurology, 67 (2010).  Epub ahead of print.  doi: 10.1001/archneurol.2010.84

Walker, Emily P.  NIH panel provides no help in unraveling Alzheimers diseaseMedPageToday, April 28, 2010.  Accessed online April 28, 2010.

2 Comments

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2 responses to ““Dementia Runs In My Family. Does Food Affect MY Risk?”

  1. And the meds aren’t that effective from what I understand, correct?

  2. Steve Parker, M.D.

    Effective enough for FDA approval, but usually no dramatic improvement or major slowing of progression.

    -Steve