A plant-based diet can reduce the chance of developing Alzheimer’s disease (AD), according to a new study

The recently published paper from the The Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease says that more plant-based diets – such as the Mediterranean diet and traditional diets in China, Japan, and India – have been shown to reduce the risk of developing the dementia-causing neurological disorder, while Western diets increase it. 

The study highlights several foods as being protective against AD, namely: green leafy vegetables, colorful fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, omega-3 fatty acids, and whole grains.

Foods that increase the risk of AD include saturated fats, meat, red meat such as hamburgers, barbeque, hot dogs, and ultra-processed foods. Meat in particular was found to significantly increase the risk by contributing to other AD-correlating factors such as inflammation, insulin resistance, oxidative stress, saturated fat, advanced glycation end products, and trimethylamine N-oxide.

At the same time, ultra-processed foods can lead to obesity and diabetes, which are both risk factors for AD. That’s because these products do not contain the anti-inflammatory components and antioxidant ingredients found in whole foods that have been shown to reduce risk factors.

The study also notes that the rise in obesity in Western countries fueled by consumption of meat and highly processed foods is believed to be the main cause of dementia.

As of 2023, Australia was ranked among the top ten countries in the world for prevalence of overweight and obese adults by percentage and remains in the top three of meat consuming countries in the world.

Meanwhile, data shows that Alzheimer’s disease affects up to 1 in 10 Australians over 65 years of age and 3 in 10 Australians over 85 years.

Aside from reducing the risk of AD, exchanging conventional meat for plant-based meat has been suggested to reduce the risk of heart disease and bowel cancer, improve overall gut health, and help maintain a healthy weight, according to a GFI Europe report.

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