A new study suggests that healthy dietary choices in midlife may prevent dementia in later years.
The results showed that those who ate the healthiest diet at the average age of 50 had an almost 90 percent lower risk of dementia in a 14-year follow-up study than those whose diet was the least healthy.
The study was the first in the world to investigate the relationship between a healthy diet as early as in midlife and the risk of developing dementia later on.
The researchers assessed the link between diet and dementia using a healthy diet index based on the consumption of a variety of foods. Vegetables, berries and fruits, fish and unsaturated fats from milk products and spreads were some of the healthy components, whereas sausages, eggs, sweets, sugary drinks, salty fish and saturated fats from milk products and spreads were indicated as unhealthy.
Previous studies on diet and dementia have mainly focused on the impact of single dietary components.
“But nobody’s diet is based on one single food, and there may be interactions between nutrients, so it makes more sense to look at the entire dietary pattern,” Marjo Eskelinen, MSc, who presented the results in her doctoral thesis in the field of neurology, said.
Higher intake of saturated fats linked to poorer cognitive functions and increased risk of dementia
The doctoral thesis, published at the University of Eastern Finland, was based on the population-based Finnish Cardiovascular Risk Factors, Ageing and Incidence of Dementia (CAIDE) study.