Dementia: Two protein sources shown to have the ‘strongest protective association’ – study
Frontotemporal dementia symptoms include 'changes in personality'
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Dementia, which affects 850,000 people in the UK, is a disease driven by the degeneration of cognitive functions. There is substantial evidence, however, that our dietary patterns affect the brain ability to think and remember. Protein sources may be key to preserving cognitive functions, a new study suggests. Some protein sources, however, may fare better than others.
Protein is indispensable to human wellbeing because of its role in the reparation of cells and production of new ones.
It is also critical, however, for maintaining brain function in older individuals.
There is evidence that plant sources may confer superior protection against brain decline, compared to their animal counterparts.
Recent study published in the American Journal Of Clinical Nutrition, which highlighted the importance of getting enough protein to protect the brain against cognitive decline.
READ MORE: Dementia: Scientists identify vitamin deficiency that may cause decline – millions at risk
Doctor Tian-Shin Yeh, lead author and a postdoctoral research fellow at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, said: “Beans and legumes had the strongest protective association.
“Peas and lima beans in particular were associated with a 28 percent low risk of cognitive decline for every additional three servings per week.”
Because the study was conducted using an observational methodological approach, researchers were unable to prove that any of the above proteins actively protect the brain against decline.
Harvard Health adds: “We already know that proteins are the building blocks of muscles and organs and are essential for tissue and cell repair and the reduction of important brain chemicals.
“So be sure to add proteins to your plate at each meal, especially plant-based proteins such as beans, lentils, nuts, and seeds.”
The study set out to compare the benefits of eating carbohydrates and protein on the odds of developing cognitive decline later in life.
The analysis of dietary habits of more than 77,000 men and women, who were followed for more than 20 years, suggested the brain-health benefits of protein exceeded those of carbohydrates.
“For example, for every five percent of calories that came from animal protein instead of carbohydrates, there was an 11 percent lower risk for developing dementia,” notes Harvard Health.
What’s more, when the protein came from a plant source, instead of carbohydrates, the risk of developing dementia was reduced by 26 percent.
According to previous studies, optimal sources of plant protein include almonds, tofu, lentils and black beans and chickpeas.
Both men and women need sufficient amounts of these foods to help maintain muscle mass and strength as they age.
This is because they provide a wide range of nutrients, fibre, and antioxidants, which can all help improve overall health.
Alongside their benefits for brain health, protein sources have historically been recognised for their role in heart disease prevention.
Previous research published in JAMA has even suggested the food source may also dictate how long a person lives.
This is why the MIND and Mediterranean diets are widely perceived as the optimal diet to reduce the risk of cognitive decline.
Both diets are regarded as some of the healthiest because they emphasise healthy plant sources and exclude foods with an unhealthy effect on the brain.
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