New scientific study reveals diet to eat in 40s to reduce chance of dementia

Scientists said one of the key factors of whether someone got dementia was down to lifestyle in their 40s
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A significant new study has laid out exactly what people need to be eating after the age of 40 to stave off dementia. The study, involving 3,000 British adults, found that the quality of a person’s diet at the age of 43 could predict their risk of getting dementia later in life.

What you eat in middle age might have a bigger impact on staving off memory loss than previously thought. A study tracking the eating habits of 3,000 Brits has linked a high-quality diet at age 43 with a lower risk of dementia and sharper cognitive abilities by age 69. The findings were unveiled at the prestigious American Society for Nutrition conference.

A diet rich in antioxidants, found aplenty in fruits and veggies, can bolster brain health by reducing inflammation and improving blood flow to the brain, thereby shielding against cell damage linked to dementia.

Antioxidants are compounds that counteract harmful oxygen-based molecules that contribute to brain ageing and diseases like Alzheimer’s. While our bodies naturally produce these antioxidants, we can also source them from food, especially fruits and vegetables.

Diet tips to lower the risk of dementia:

• Load up on vegetables of all types and colours

• Consume lots of lentils, beans and pulses

• Try to stick to whole grains such as oats and rice

• Oily fish, which is high in omega-3, can boost brain health

• Limit processed and red meat

• Don’t drink too much alcohol

• Avoid foods and drinks with added sugars

Almost a million Brits suffer from dementia, and lifestyle changes such as cutting down on alcohol, quitting smoking or eating healthily could prevent about 40 per cent of these cases. Adopting these healthy habits during midlife, between the ages of 40 and 65, is crucial in reducing the risk of dementia.

The participants, all born in 1946 and part of an extensive 75-year national study, kept detailed food diaries over the years. Their diets were scored as “low”, “high”, or “moderate” quality based on their consumption of veggies versus sugary treats, among other factors.

Alongside this, they underwent regular brain function and memory assessments. When researchers divided them into quartiles based on their cognitive performance up to age 69, a striking pattern emerged. In the lowest-performing group, a whopping 59% had poor diets, while only 7% enjoyed high-quality meals.

Conversely, in the top-performing group, 36% had indulged in a high-quality diet, with a mere 8% having a low-quality one. New research reinforces earlier studies demonstrating the pivotal role that a good diet plays in staving off dementia - and it indicates that these links may be established much earlier than we previously thought.

While past investigations mainly centred on the dietary habits of those in their sixties and seventies, this latest study highlights that a person's food choices at 43 could greatly influence their risk of developing dementia in old age. “Our results suggest dietary patterns in midlife, before age 50, may be most predictive of cognitive trends up to age 69,” the researchers concluded.

It was discovered that every minor improvement in diet quality at this age, such as incorporating an additional portion of vegetables daily, reduced the chance of poor performance in brain function tests by 4%. Dr Kelly Cara, one of the authors of this report from Tufts University in Massachusetts, stated: “Dietary patterns that are high in whole or less processed plant-food groups including leafy green vegetables, beans, whole fruits and whole grains may be most protective.”

“Adjusting one’s dietary intake at any age to incorporate more of these foods and to align more closely with current dietary recommendations is likely to improve our health in many ways, including our cognitive health.”

“Our findings also provide new evidence suggesting that improvements to dietary patterns up to midlife may influence cognitive performance and help mitigate, or lessen, cognitive decline in later years.”