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Plant-based Foods Help To Prevent Age-Related Mental Decline

alzheimers vegetarian diet nutrition

Alzheimer's Disease is an age-related irreversible condition that robs people of their independence and most precious lifetime memories. Research shows a lifestyle of proper eating that includes a diet high in plant-based foods, particularly fruits and vegetables and is low in fat, can go a long way toward preventing the disease.


Related: Vegan Recipe: Pasta with Cannellini Beans and Eggplant

Of the estimated 5.5 million Americans living with Alzheimer's dementia in 2017, an estimated 5.3 million are age 65 and older and approximately 200,000 individuals are under age 65 and have younger-onset Alzheimer's. Remarkably, one in 10 people age 65 and older (10 percent) has Alzheimer's dementia according the Alzheimer’s Association.

Can Age-Related Memory Loss Be Prevented?

Turns out eating a healthy diet is the key to dodging cognitive decline, according to research published in the journal Neurology. Researchers found that seniors who consumed the most nutritious foods had a nearly 25 percent reduction in the risk of mental decline compared those who had less healthy diets.

“It is likely that a healthy diet has effects on cardiovascular risk factors and cardiovascular disease, and that this is an important mechanism for reducing the risk of cognitive decline,” said the study’s lead researcher, Andrew Smyth.

Related: How Vegans Protect Their Eyesight

Proper diet Is Important

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In the international study researchers followed 27,860 people aged 55 or older from 40 different countries for an average of five years. Everyone in the study had diseases such as diabetes, history of heart disease, stroke or peripheral artery disease.

At the beginning of the study, participants were asked how often they ate certain kinds of foods, such as fruits and vegetables, nuts and soy proteins, whole grains, deep-fried foods and alcohol.

Related: The 4 Big Supplements Needed To Enhance Your Vegan Diet

Diet Effects Memory

Memory and thinking ability were also tested at the beginning of the study, and then again at two years and at the end of the study.

Researchers examined 10 different aspects of cognition including tests of a person’s ability to remember and recall lists of objects, arithmetic and attention span. The maximum score was 30 and participants were considered to have declined mentally if their score dropped by three points or more. Interestingly, 4,699 people suffered a decline in thinking and memory.

Not surprisingly, those consuming the most nutritious foods were 24 percent less likely to have cognitive declines compared to people consuming the least healthy foods.

Lastly, the results were unchanged when researchers accounted for other factors that impact cognitive health, such as physical activity, high blood pressure and a history of cancer.