New Study Supports Link Between Polyphenol Rich Diet And Reduced Dementia Risk
Updated November 16th 2021
A new study from the American Academy of Neurology found that people who follow an anti-inflammatory diet – rich in polyphenols from fruits, vegetables, beans along with tea or coffee – have a lower risk of developing dementia later on in life.
The study, as reported in healthline.com supports a growing understanding that people who at an anti-inflammatory diet (such as the Mediterranean Diet) may be linked to a lower risk of developing dementia. These foods, including the best olive oil, are a great source of beneficial vitamins and minerals, which can protect our cells from damage and prevent inflammation in the body.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Polyphenols and Inflammation
Healthline reports that: “Decreasing the amount of inflammation in the body, and therefore the brain, can potentially help lower the risk of developing these diseases.”
“We know diet plays a major role in our overall health, whether it is heart health or brain health or anything in between. This study adds to the growing body of evidence that what we choose to eat can affect our risk for disease, and, in this case, the risk of dementia,” said Liz Weinandy, MPH, a registered dietitian nutritionist at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.
Anti-inflammatory diet linked to a lower dementia risk
Throughout the study, 62 people (6 percent) developed dementia. People who developed dementia followed a more inflammatory diet and had, on average, a dietary inflammatory score of -0.06. Additionally, people with the highest dietary inflammatory scores were 3 times more likely to develop dementia compared to people with the lowest inflammatory scores.
How Does Diet Rich In Extra Virgin Olive Oil Impact Cognitive Health?
Fruits, vegetables, and coffee are rich in healthful vitamins, minerals, and polyphenols.
“All of these nutrients and compounds help to reduce the chronic low-grade inflammation in the body, thus why a diet rich in these foods is deemed ‘anti-inflammatory,’” said Weinandy.
Elizabeth Klingbeil, PhD, a registered dietitian and assistant professor in the department of Nutrition & Dietetics at Johnson & Wales University-Providence, says these foods are great sources of fiber, which prevents chronic, low-grade inflammation, along with antioxidants, which prevent cell damage in our bodies.
“The role of inflammation in neurocognitive diseases — such as dementia — has been well-established. Thereby, decreasing the amount of systemic inflammation in the body may reduce the risk of development or severity of these diseases,”Elizabeth Klingbeil, PhD
Diet alone won’t protect cognitive health, Weinandy said.
“For optimal health, we want to focus on an overall approach for brain health that includes a healthy diet, regular activity, stress reduction and adequate sleep,”Liz Weinandy
Why Choose Extra Virgin Olive Oil To Combat Dementia?
As one of the main staples of the Mediterranean diet, Extra Virgin olive oil has already been praised by nutritionists for its ability to massage your cardiovascular system, especially when compared to other kitchen staples like butter or margarine. But Extra Virgin olive oil could also provide greater benefits for your mental health when compared to coconut or avocado oil, per new research published in the journal Aging Cell. New research has found that making Extra Virgin olive oil one of your diet’s staples could help keep your memory skills intact as you age and may also greatly reduce your risk of dementia in later years.
The research, which was published after conducting various tests on mice, suggests that the purest forms of olive oil can help break down the build-up of an abnormal protein in the brain. While the scientific community has failed to discover a singular cause of Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia, many experts regard the elevated presence of tau (a kind of protein) in the brain as a main marker for the disease, as they can interrupt important communication functions. The newly-published research found that diets high in Extra Virgin olive oil can effectively decrease the build-up of tau and possibly slow or stop advancing neurodegenerative diseases.
The smaller-scale study followed 16 different mice that were prone to increased tau levels in the brain as they ate a diet rich in Extra Virgin olive oil for six months. Afterwards, they were tested on their memory retention skills as well as general learning abilities—their results were compared to 15 different mice that ate normal diets. The group that enjoyed high amounts of olive oil demonstrated vast improvement in many areas, including spatial memory and learning memory, as well as increased activity in their hippocampus (the area of the brain that creates memories). Researchers at Temple University as well as Sapienza University of Rome linked those changes to decreased tau levels in their brains. Could this help to reduce dementia?
To possibly reduce dementia extra virgin olive oil is rich in antioxidants and has been known to decrease inflammation; its potential mental health properties are the latest addition to a laundry list of holistic benefits. Many home cooks choose to use it in place of other oils when sautéing and pan frying, but simply pairing it with vegetables in your daily diet could provide the same health benefits espoused by medical professionals.
Simple Diet Tweaks That Could Cut Your Alzheimer’s Risk
Dubbed the “MIND” diet, short for Mediterranean-DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay, this eating pattern recommends natural plant-based foods while limiting red meat, saturated fat and sweets. Observational studies suggest the diet can reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease by up to 53 percent as well as slow cognitive decline and improve verbal memory.
Researchers developed the diet by looking at the Mediterranean and DASH diets, then focusing on the foods with the most compelling findings in dementia prevention. Vegetables, especially leafy greens, rose to the top and of course, the cornerstone of the Mediterranean diet, Extra Virgin olive oil.
Researchers then tracked detailed eating logs in an older adult population for an average of 4.5 years to uncover trends among the diets of those who developed dementia versus those who didn’t. Their discovery: Older adults whose diets most closely resembled the pattern laid out in the MIND diet had brains as sharp as people 7.5 years younger. That’s a substantial difference, since delaying dementia by just five years has been suggested to cut the cost and prevalence of the disease in half.