Alzheimer's disease accounts for a whopping 60 to 80 percent of dementia cases around the world, and its symptoms typically get worse over time. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, there is no cure, and no treatments can stop the disease from progressing to the point where it interferes with daily tasks. How can you reduce risk of this invasive dementia? One possible answer is a bit surprising: diet.

A new study has revealed that crucial Alzheimer's risk factors seem to be linked to consuming a Western diet, which is high in meat, sweets, and high-fat dairy products.

“Reducing meat consumption could significantly reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease as well as of several cancers, diabetes mellitus type 2, stroke, and, likely, chronic kidney disease,” stated the study’s author, William B. Grant.

Each person in the U.S. has about a 4 percent chance of developing Alzheimer's disease — which is a higher risk than faced by those living in Brazil, Chile, Cuba, Egypt, India, Mongolia, Nigeria, Republic of Korea and Sri Lanka. The Western dietary patterns are likely a significant factor of Americans’ increased risk of dementia.

When people in Japan transitioned from the country’s traditional food consumption to the Western diet, Alzheimer's disease rates rose from 1 percent in 1985 to 7 percent in 2008.

"Mounting evidence from ecological and observational studies, as well as studies of mechanisms, indicates that the Western dietary pattern — especially the large amount of meat in that diet — is strongly associated with risk of developing Alzheimer's disease and several other chronic diseases,” Grant said. “Although the traditional Mediterranean diet is associated with about half the risk for Alzheimer's disease of the Western diet, the traditional diets of countries such as India, Japan, and Nigeria, with very low meat consumption, are associated with an additional 50 percent reduction in risk of Alzheimer's disease."

Source: Grant WB. Using Multicountry Ecological and Observational Studies to Determine Dietary Risk Factors for Alzheimer's Disease, Journal of the American College of Nutrition . 2016.

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