Alzheimers Research UK explain 'what is dementia?'
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Oats and beans are high in soluble fibre long believed to protect against dementia – most likely because it boosts good bacteria dampening inflammation in the brain. A 20-year study tracking nearly 4,000 adults has confirmed its preventative qualities, finding those who filled up on fibre had a 26 percent lower risk of Alzheimer’s. The link was most evident in people who had a higher intake of soluble fibre, also found in peas, lentils and peanuts.
Professor Kazumasa Yamagishi, the lead researcher from Tsukuba university in Japan, said: “The mechanisms are currently unknown but might involve the interactions that take place between the gut and the brain.
“One possibility is that soluble fibre regulates the composition of gut bacteria. This may affect neuroinflammation, which plays a role in the onset of dementia.”
Past research has confirmed that eating plenty of fibrous foods such as fruit and vegetables boosts the digestive system and has cardiovascular benefits including reducing cholesterol.
Prof Yamagishi said those additional advantages may contribute to cutting the chance of developing conditions that affect brain function. He added: “It is also possible dietary fibre may reduce other risk factors for dementia such as body weight, blood pressure, lipids and glucose levels.”
The findings, published in Nutritional Neuroscience, add to emerging evidence that fibre is good for the brain by increasing oxygen supply.
The study volunteers, who were aged 40 to 64, were split into four groups according to the amount they ate. They completed surveys about their diet between 1985 and 1999.Whether they required dementia care was followed up between 1999 and 2020.
In Britain, fewer than one in 10 adults eats a recommended 30g of fibre a day. Women consume an average 17g and men 21g.
More than 920,000 people are affected by dementia, which is set to rise to two million within 30 years. With no cure in sight, doctors are increasingly focusing on prevention through lifestyle changes.
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