Dementia: Dr Sara on benefits of being in nature
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Scientists from the University of Leeds investigated the diet of 500,000 people and whether or not an association could be made to the development of dementia. Lead researcher, Huifeng Zhang, said: “Worldwide, the prevalence of dementia is increasing and diet as a modifiable factor could play a role.” Dementia UK warned that the number of dementia cases in the UK are predicted to rise to over two million by 2051.
In Zhang’s research, based at the School of Food Science and Nutrition, one alarming trend came to light.
The team found that the daily consumption of 25g of processed meat was associated with a 44 percent increased risk of dementia.
This is equivalent to one rasher of bacon, meaning a bacon sandwich could increase your risk of the brain condition.
Zhang commented on the results: “Our research adds to the growing body of evidence linking processed meat consumption to increased risk of a range of non-transmissible diseases.”
Other sandwiches that might increase your dementia risk
According to the notion that processed meats increase the risk of dementia, sausage sandwiches could increase your risk of dementia.
Furthermore, deli meats, such as roast beef and turkey, could increase your dementia risk, as could ham sandwiches.
How did the researchers come to such a conclusion that processed meat increases dementia risk?
Under the supervision of professors Janet Cade and Laura Hardie, the research team analysed data provided by UK Biobank.
The database contained in-depth genetic and health information from half a million UK participants aged 40 to 69 years of age.
Within the data, how often participants consumed different types of meat were collected from 2006 to 2010.
While the study did not specifically assess the impact of a vegetarian or vegan diet on dementia risk, it did include data on those who did not eat red meat.
Among the participants, 2,896 cases of dementia emerged over an average of eight years of follow up.
Certain trends were observed, those who developed dementia were more likely to:
- Be less physically active
- More likely to have a stroke history
- More likely to have dementia within the family
- More likely to carry a gene that is “highly associated” with dementia.
In fact, some people were up to six times more likely to develop dementia due to genetic factors.
However, the risk of dementia from eating processed meat was the same whether or not a person had a genetic predisposition to developing the brain condition.
It must be noted that people who did consume more processed meat also tended to be smokers, overweight, and to eat fewer fruit and vegetables.
Zhang added: “Further confirmation is needed, but the direction of effect is linked to current healthy eating guidelines suggesting lower intakes of unprocessed red meat could be beneficial for health.”
Professor Cade said: “Anything we can do to explore potential risk factors for dementia may help us to reduce rates of this debilitating condition.
“This analysis is a first step towards understanding whether what we eat could influence that risk.”
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