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new study published in the Alzheimer & Dementia medical journal carried out by researchers from Rush University Medical Centre in Chicago and Harvard School of Public Health in Boston has found that a specific type of diet could more than have a person’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s.

The researchers looked at the effects that three separate diets had on the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease in retirement communities and public housing in Chicago by asking them to complete a questionnaire to assess their diet; they then had annual neurological examinations for 4/5 years, which checked for signs of Alzheimer’s.

Once they had taken account of other Alzheimer’s risk factors they looked for a link between the different diets and the Alzheimer’s diagnosis.

The three diets that the researchers assessed were:

  • The Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension (DASH) including total grains and wholegrains, fruit, vegetables, dairy products, meat and fish, nuts and legumes, but restricts fat, sweets and salt.
  • The Mediterranean diet (MEDdiet) including olive oil, wholegrains, vegetables, potatoes, fruit, fish, nuts and legumes, and moderate wine, but restricts full-fat dairy products and red meat.
  • The Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay (MIND) diet is a new diet developed by the researchers with elements from both the DASH and MEDdiet, which also includes foods thought to protect the brain. It includes olive oil, wholegrains, green leafy vegetables, other vegetables, berries, fish, poultry, beans and nuts, and a daily glass of wine, but restricts red meat and meat products, fast or fried food, cheese, butter, pastries and sweets.

The study found that the people whose diet consisted mainly of the three healthy diets above were less likely to develop Alzheimer’s than the people who eating habits were less healthy.

The researchers say they found the greatest effect from the MIND diet, which is rich in green leafy vegetables, wholegrains, nuts and berries, even if people didn’t follow it closely. Participants who did stick rigorously to the MIND diet were 52% less likely to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

The researchers also concluded that the DASH and MEDdiet showed positive results in reducing the risk but only if they were stuck to rigorously.

The study provides further support that eating a healthy diet can be influential in helping reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s later on in life.