Studies show how unhealthy the typical Western diet—low in fruits and veggies, high in saturated and trans fats, processed meat, sugar, and salt—can be for your health, and now a review of data in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition is piling on the bad news with research linking it to a higher risk of Alzheimer’s.
That's particularly worrisome given the fact that approximately 42 million people are living with dementia worldwide. All U.S. men and women have about a 4% chance of developing the disease; and the rates are rising, researchers say. On a brighter note, you can lower your own odds. Diet is among the main risk factors—and you have control over what you put in your mouth. So, limit your consumption of what the researchers say are among the worst offenders: meat, sweets, and high-fat dairy—all foods native to the Western Diet. Conversely, fruits, vegetables, grains, low-fat dairy products, legumes, and fish are correlated with a lower risk. So, eat up!
Lead study author William Grant, said in a press release: "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." He adds, "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% reduction in risk of Alzheimer's disease."
To upgrade your diet, eat at least five servings of fresh fruits and vegetables a day, get more whole grains, up lean protein, and swap saturated fats for mono and polyunsaturated ones.
Need more motivation to switch things up? Keep reading to see how else a Western diet could be impacting your health.