Healthy midlife diet may prevent dementia later

March 10, 2014

Healthy dietary choices in midlife may prevent dementia in later years, according a doctoral thesis published at the University of Eastern Finland. The results showed that those who ate the healthiest diet at the average age of 50 had an almost 90 per cent 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," says Ms Marjo Eskelinen, MSc, who presented the results in her doctoral thesis in the field of neurology.

Higher intake of saturated fats linked to poorer cognitive functions and increased risk of dementia

The impact of dietary fats on cognitive performance and the risk of dementia was studied separately as well. A high intake of saturated fats was linked to poorer cognitive and memory functions and to an increased risk of mild cognitive impairment in a 21-year follow-up. It was also shown that a higher saturated fat intake was associated with an increased risk of dementia among those carrying a genetic risk factor of Alzheimer's disease, the epsilon 4 variant of the apolipoprotein E (ApoE) gene. "Even those who are genetically susceptible can at least delay the onset of the disease by favouring vegetable oils, oil-based spreads and fatty fish in their diet," Ms Eskelinen says.

In addition, those consuming 3 to 5 cups of coffee daily had a smaller risk of dementia than those consuming less or more.

The doctoral thesis was based on the population-based Finnish Cardiovascular Risk Factors, Aging and Incidence of Dementia (CAIDE) study. Out of 2,000 participants, 1,449 took part in the follow-up. The participants were 39 to 64 years old at baseline and 65 to 75 years old at follow-up.
-end-
The results were originally published in International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, Dementia and Geriatric Cognitive Disorders and Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.

For further information, please contact:

Marjo Eskelinen, MSc, tel. +358 40 3552019, marjo.eskelinen (at) uef.fi

The doctoral thesis:

Eskelinen, Marjo: The effects of midlife diet on late-life cognition: an epidemiological approach. Publications of the University of Eastern Finland. Dissertations in Health Sciences., no 220. http://epublications.uef.fi/pub/urn_isbn_978-952-61-1394-4/

The original publications:

Eskelinen MH, Ngandu T, Helkala E-L, Tuomilehto J, Nissinen A, Soininen H, Kivipelto M. Fat intake at midlife and cognitive impairment later in life: a population-based CAIDE study. Int J Geriatr Psychiatry 23(7): 741, 2008.

Laitinen MH, Ngandu T, Rovio S, Helkala E-L, Uusitalo U, Viitanen M, Nissinen A, Tuomilehto J, Soininen H, Kivipelto M. Fat Intake at Midlife and Risk of Dementia and Alzheimer's Disease: A Population-Based Study. Dement Geriatr Cogn Disord 22(1): 99, 2006.

Eskelinen MH, Ngandu T, Tuomilehto J, Soininen H, Kivipelto M. Midlife Coffee and Tea Drinking and the Risk of Late-Life Dementia: A Population-based CAIDE Study. J Alzheimers Dis 16(1): 85-91, 2009.

Eskelinen MH, Ngandu T, Tuomilehto J, Soininen H, Kivipelto M. Midlife Healthy Diet Index and Late-Life Dementia and Alzheimer's Disease. Dement Geriatr Cogn Disord Extra 1(1): 103-112, 2011.

University of Eastern Finland

Related Dementia Articles from Brightsurf:

The danger of Z-drugs for dementia patients
Strong sleeping pills known as 'Z-drugs' are linked with an increased risk of falls, fractures and stroke among people with dementia, according to new research.

The long road to dementia
Alzheimer's disease develops over decades. It begins with a fatal chain reaction in which masses of misfolded beta-amyloid proteins are produced that in the end literally flood the brain.

Why people with dementia go missing
People with dementia are more likely to go missing in areas where road networks are dense, complicated and disordered - according to new research from the University of East Anglia.

PTSD may double risk of dementia
People who have experienced post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are up to twice as likely to develop dementia later in life, according to a new study by UCL researchers, published in the British Journal of Psychiatry.

Dementia education
School-based dementia education could deliver much needed empathy and understanding for older generations as new research from the University of South Australia shows it can significantly improve dementia knowledge and awareness among younger generations.

Building dementia friendly churches
A project to help church communities become more 'dementia friendly' has had a significant impact across the country.

A "feeling" for dementia?
A research team led by the DZNE concludes that personal perception can be an important indicator for the early detection of Alzheimer's disease.

New biomarker for dementia diagnosis
Medical researchers in the UK and Australia have identified a new marker which could support the search for novel preventative and therapeutic treatments for dementia.

Digital solutions for dementia care
Telehealth delivery of dementia care in the home can be as effective as face-to-face home visit services if carers and recipients take advantage of the technologies available, Australian researchers say.

Despite a marked reduction in the prevalence of dementia, the number of people with dementia is set to double by 2050 according to new Alzheimer Europe report
Today, at a European Parliament lunch debate, Alzheimer Europe launched a new report presenting the findings of its collaborative analysis of recent prevalence studies and setting out updated prevalence rates for dementia in Europe.

Read More: Dementia News and Dementia Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.