New Study Shows Healthy Diet Linked to Reduced Dementia Risk and Slower Aging Process

by Ella

A recent study conducted by researchers at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health and The Robert Butler Columbia Aging Center has uncovered a significant association between healthier dietary habits and a reduced risk of dementia, coupled with a deceleration in the aging process. The findings, published in the Annals of Neurology, shed light on the intricate relationship between diet, biological aging, and dementia risk, providing valuable insights into potential avenues for dementia prevention.

The study utilized data from the Framingham Heart Study’s Offspring Cohort, focusing on participants aged 60 and above who were free of dementia at the outset and had available dietary, epigenetic, and follow-up data. Over a span of 14 years, researchers tracked participants’ dietary patterns, aging trajectories, and incidence of dementia and mortality.


Lead author Daniel Belsky, PhD, an associate professor of Epidemiology at Columbia School of Public Health and the Columbia Aging Center, highlighted the importance of understanding the broader impact of nutrition on overall health. While previous research had hinted at the potential benefits of a healthy diet in slowing down biological aging and lowering dementia risk, the underlying mechanisms had remained unclear until now.


The study revealed that adherence to a healthy diet, specifically the Mediterranean-Dash Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay diet (MIND), was associated with a slower pace of aging, as measured by the DunedinPACE epigenetic clock. Furthermore, individuals with higher adherence to the MIND diet exhibited a reduced risk of developing dementia and mortality over the follow-up period.


Yian Gu, PhD, an associate professor of Neurological Sciences at Columbia University Irving Medical Center and a senior author of the study, emphasized the significance of these findings in the context of dementia prevention. While the protective effect of a healthy diet against dementia is evident, the precise mechanism underlying this association requires further investigation.


The research suggests that a slower pace of aging may mediate part of the relationship between a healthy diet and reduced dementia risk, highlighting the potential of dietary interventions in dementia prevention. However, a portion of the diet-dementia association remains unexplained, prompting researchers to call for continued investigation into brain-specific mechanisms through well-designed mediation studies.

In conclusion, the study provides compelling evidence supporting the role of a healthy diet in slowing down the aging process and reducing the risk of dementia. Ongoing research is essential to fully understand the complex interplay between diet, biological aging, and dementia risk, paving the way for targeted interventions and improved outcomes in dementia prevention.



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