Dementia cases are growing sharply, and the projections for years to come are stark. There is little that can be done to halt the progression of cognitive decline in ageing adults. Certain foods may trigger the onset of dementia by increasing inflammation in the brain. One such food is, unfortunately, a staple in many households.
Increasing rates of Alzheimer’s have highlighted the need to tackle risk factors for the disease.
The foods most strongly associated with the disease are sugary snacks, alcohol, processed meats, and some starches like potatoes.
The Mayo Clinic explains that refined grains are milled to have had the germ and brain removed from them.
“This redefined process also removes many nutrients, including fibre. Refined grains include white flour white rice and white bread,” explained the health body.
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“Many breads, cereals, crackers, desserts and pastries are made with refined grains.”
Whole grains, conversely, include wholegrain flours and intact or cracked whole grains.
Researchers published in the British Medical Journal in 2021, found that eating seven servings of refined grains per day was associated with a 27 percent greater risk for early death.
The study author, Simon Fraser University health sciences professor Scott Lear noted: “The study re-affirms previous work indicating a healthy diet including limiting overly processed and refined foods.”
But because refined grains have very few nutrients, researchers warn that these foods can increase the risk of general brain inflammation as well.
The health body alzheimers.net, explains: “Unfortunately, the foods that hamper memory are common staples in the American diet.
“White bread, pasta, processed meats and cheese, all of these have been linked to Alzheimer’s disease.
“Some experts have even found that whole grain bread is as bad a white bread because it spikes blood sugar, which causes inflammation.”
The main risk with eating a diet high in refined grains is that it increases blood sugar levels rapidly, due to its high glycemic index.
It is digested quickly, which means the subsequent surge in blood glucose is rapid.
In 2015, a medical paper investigating diet-induced cognitive deficits explained that meals with a heavy glycemic load could impair memory performance in children and healthy young adults.
The author of the papers wrote: “Studies highlight that excessive energy can impair cognition but importantly, diets high in either fat or sugar can also impair cognition.
“The experimental studies in humans also show that memory deficits can occur rapidly, within one week of diet exposure and therefore arise independently of any effect on body weight or general health.”
What’s more, research published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease in 2012 found that people who ate food high in carbohydrates had nearly four times the risk of developing mild cognitive impairment.
Findings revealed, however, that those with a diet that was highest in fat, conversely, had 42 percent lower chance of cognitive impairment, compared to those with a lower intake of fat.
Foods that protect against dementia include whole grains, green leafy vegetables, berries, beans and fish.