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Diet and Inflammation in Brain Aging and Dementia

How diet affects inflammation and dementia

Scientists believe they have discovered a factor proving the effects of diet on dementia. By combining particular eating habits with the level of inflammation markers in the blood, they have shown that in older people who do not eat sufficiently balanced meals, the amount of gray matter in the brain is below average, and that their visual-cognitive functions are impaired.

“People with diets deficient in omega-3, calcium, vitamins E, D, B5 and B2 have an elevated level of inflammation markers” said Yian Gu, doctor at Columbia University and Taub Institute for Research on Alzheimer’s Disease and the Aging Brain, New York.

Inflammation-causing diet is adverse both to cognitive functions and to the brain itself.

The details of this research have been presented on the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in 2017.

Lower risk diet, chronic inflammation

According to Dr. Gu, consuming meals containing fish, nuts, omega-3 fatty acids and folates, including the Mediterranean diet, is associated with lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease and better brain condition in older people. Additionally, many food products and nutrients have an effect on the incidence and development of inflammation.

Remaining research has proven a connection between chronic inflammation and higher risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Dr. Yian Gu’s research group has proven a link between an increased level of C-reactive protein (CRP) and interleukin-6 (IL6), and a deterioration of cognitive processes and decrease in brain volume.

However, none of the previous research has directly dealt with the matter of direct influence of diet on the brain and its health through influencing the development and severity of inflammations. According to Dr. Gu, “No research has formally tested if the effect of diet on brain cognitive function is associated with inflammation.”

Effects of diet on brain cognitive function and its health: research

New cross-sectional study has been conducted on 330 older people taking part in imaging examination by Washington Heights–Inwood Community Aging Project. Researchers have performed structural MRI scans and measured levels of CRP and IL6 inflammation biomarkers. Additionally, the partakers filled out a 61-item questionnaire regarding the frequency of consuming given foods and nutrients in the span of the last year.

The research has proven a positive correlation of inflammation-influencing diet with the level of CRP (P = .009) and IL6 (P <0001). New discoveries suggest that interventions aiming to reduce marker levels can be helpful. In the words of Dr. Fargo, "It gives us some idea of the treatment methods we can choose."

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