An Anti-Inflammatory Diet High in Veggies May Decrease Your Dementia Risk

You likely already know that having too much inflammation in the body can be detrimental to your health. But are you aware of just how beneficial adopting an anti-inflammatory meal plan can be? A recent study from the American Academy of Neurology has presented evidence that supports a new finding: Those who follow an anti-inflammatory diet may be less likely to develop dementia or an advanced loss of cognitive function.

The report, which was first published in the medical journal Neurology, was released in November 2021. With the known correlation between inflammation and neurocognitive diseases like dementia, this study could help to confirm theories that what we eat can affect our risk for certain diseases.

With this information, people could have insight into what to eat to lower your risk of Alzheimer’s or other diseases. 

What is an anti-inflammatory diet?

An anti-inflammation diet is rooted in whole foods with no added sugar: fruits, vegetables, legumes like beans or lentils, whole grains, and other unprocessed foods.

By filling your plate with these healthy, nutrient-dense foods, you can enjoy benefits that positively affect many areas of your body, from your heart to your brain. The goal, of course, is to reduce or eliminate any foods known to trigger inflammation. If you’re looking for ways to decrease your dementia risk, it’s worth considering and asking your doctor if it’s right for you.

Could it really lower your risk of dementia?

The study, conducted in Greece over three years, followed 1,059 people, collecting data about the types of food they ate. From there, the group was divided into three sections, with each given a score based on how inflammatory their diet was.

Rated on a point scale, the results showed that each one-point increase to a person’s score was associated with a 21% increased risk of developing dementia. Those whose diets mirrored an anti-inflammatory approach, consuming more fruits, vegetables, legumes, and coffee or tea, proved less likely to develop dementia. On the other end, the participants with the highest dietary inflammatory scores were three times more likely.

If research continues to yield similar results for combatting dementia, diet could be a key preventive tool. The findings could show us how diet can protect your cognitive health.

Best foods to reduce inflammation

As previously mentioned, fruits, vegetables and other whole foods contribute to an anti-inflammatory diet. Specific examples of the best foods for inflammation reduction could be:

  • Berries: strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries
  • Fish with great sources of omega-3 fatty acids, like salmon
  • Broccoli
  • Avocados
  • Green tea
  • Bell peppers and chili peppers
  • Mushrooms
  • Grapes
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Dark, leafy greens
  • Spices: turmeric, cloves, peppermint, oregano, ginger and cinnamon
  • Almonds
  • Carrots
  • Beans and legumes: Kidney beans, black beans, lentils and pinto beans
  • Oranges

Combined with health-conscious preparation methods, these foods – and other unprocessed foods like them – form the basis of an anti-inflammatory diet. By making a shift to incorporate more of these foods in your rotation, you could be on the right track to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, while improving your long-term cognitive health, as well.

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