Alzheimer’s risk from junk food, but good nutrition cuts the odds

Friday 5th December, 2008

Stuffing yourself with junk food has many associated health risks, most of which are caused by obesity. However, a new study as shown that eating too many burgers and fatty sugary foods could now also increase your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

Food that is rich in sugar, fat and cholesterol triggers changes to the brain that have associations with the onset of the dementia disease Alzheimer’s.

This latest research from Sweden suggests that by eating healthily, the odds of developing Alzheimer’s can be cut, reducing the number of people suffering with the disease (currently 400,000 in the UK). Alzheimer’s disease sufferers are expected to double within a generation.

The research team fed mice a high fat, sugar and cholesterol diet for nine months and found that chemical changes took place in their brains similar to the changes that occur when Alzheimer’s disease is present.

An altered form of a protein called ‘tau’ develops inside the brain of Alzheimer’s disease sufferers causing brain cells to shrink and ultimately die. Junk foods were found to alter the formation of the protein in the same way.

Leading Alzheimer’s disease organisations and researchers believe the key to reducing your risk of the disease is to eat a healthy diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables that contain antioxidants. Mediterranean diets containing moderate amounts of dairy, fish and meat – lots of fruit, veg, cereals, and moderate amounts of alcohol have been shown to reduce the risk of dementia by 30%.

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