Food Combinations That Can Increase Your Risk of Dementia

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(WellnessPursuits.com) – What if we told you that lowering your risk of dementia could be as easy as switching up the foods you eat together? While certain foods have been linked to dementia in the past, a new study out of the University of Bordeaux in France looked at the food combinations we eat and how it may affect our risk. We have more about the study and how food pairings may affect your risk of dementia.

Working From What We Know

What we know from previous research is that there is strong evidence that the Mediterranean Diet and the MIND Diet (Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurological Delay) both have been linked to a lower risk of dementia. This is in part because they lower risks like high blood pressure, inflammation, and oxidative stress. Fish containing omega-3 fatty acids, like salmon, herring and anchovies, are an integral part of both diets and have also been found to reduce the risk of dementia.

We also know from past research that deli and other processed meats are linked to an increased risk of dementia. The same study found that white rice, frozen foods and soda had the same effect. Lower-income adults tend to purchase more processed foods that are lower in B vitamins, magnesium and potassium and tend to have an overabundance of sodium and phosphorus. Higher blood levels of phosphorus have been linked to dementia and cerebral small vessel disease.

Combinations

Researchers at the University of Bordeaux looked at foods eaten by participants with and without dementia. They were already aware of the previous studies mentioned above, but what they wanted to find out was if food combinations made a difference.

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What they found was that, for many dementia patients, processed meats were a “hub” in their food wheels and that they were generally accompanied by starchy foods like potatoes, breads or rice. By contrast, what researchers found for non-dementia participants was that there was a greater food diversity overall.

Instead, those in the non-dementia group tended to add a variety of vegetables, fruits, grains, nuts, beans and even seafood in addition to meat or poultry. When those in the non-dementia group did eat processed meats, they generally incorporated them into the wider variety of foods.

The biggest takeaways from the Bordeaux study were:

  • It’s possible that pairing processed meats with other unhealthy foods seems to be the biggest dietary risk factor for dementia.
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  • It seemed to be a pattern that preceded decline by decades in some cases.
  • It’s a risk factor that can be modified, unlike some other risk factors.

The Bordeaux study more or less falls in line with a study released in 2010 that was performed in Manhattan, New York.

The takeaway from all of these studies indicates that enjoying processed meats and foods occasionally is something we can all do in moderation as long as we pair them with a variety of healthier items, like fresh vegetables, fruits, salads, beans and whole grains. Starches are also in-bounds as long as they are part of a colorful palette of foods.

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Following a well-balanced diet may be the key to good physical and mental health. Eating a diverse selection of healthy foods may help lower your dementia risk. And the rare treat of less healthy foods might be offset by combining it with healthier choices, too.

~Here’s to Your Healthy Pursuits!

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