It’s been a big week for breakthroughs in Alzheimer’s research with two new studies released that offer greater information on how dietary factors can affect healthy brain ageing. The studies look at the effects of a high protein diet and alcohol consumption, and their role in Alzheimer’s prevention and acceleration respectively.
While investigating the effects of foods that are high in protein, scientists at Australia’s Edith Cowan University have found a correlation between protein levels and levels of amyloid beta in the brain. Amyloid beta is a chemical that can act as an identifier of poor brain health, with higher levels associated with a declined brain function.
When taking measurements from 541 study participants, the scientists found that those who ate a diet of protein rich meats and legumes had lowered levels of amyloid beta, resulting in a decreased chance of Alzheimer’s in their future.
“The research clearly demonstrates that the more protein eaten the lower the chances someone has of having a high Aβ [amyloid beta] burden on the brain, which corresponds to a lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s in the future,” said lead researcher Dr Binosha Fernando.
Subjects who ate over 100grams of protein per day were 12 times less likely to have high levels of Alzheimer’s causing chemicals in their brain according to the team. While Dr. Fernando recognizes that further research is needed to determine exactly why protein has this effect on the brain, it’s believed that this is the first study to directly look at the correlation.
The Australian study is a great compliment to earlier research released this week from France, published in The Lancet Public Health. The comprehensive research of more than one million adults living with dementia uncovered scary findings that link alcohol abuse and accelerated brain ageing in young adults. Those who were identified as heavy drinkers were 3 times more likely to demonstrate signs of cognitive decline before the age of 65, according to the results.
The take away from this week’s scientific breakthroughs? Enjoy your chicken for dinner, maybe even reach for a second serve, but steer clear of the paired wine for optimal brain health.