A healthy balanced diet is important no matter what your age, but new research suggests those in middle age should take particular care with their eating habits.
According to a study conducted at the University of Eastern Finland, swapping those saturated fats for fresh fruit, vegetables and fish could slash the risk of developing dementia by up to 90 per cent.
As the first of its kind to investigate the link between a healthy midlife diet and the risk of developing brain disease, researchers focused on the consumption of healthy and unhealthy foods and their effect on cognitive and memory functions.
The likes of sausages, sweets, sugary drinks and saturated fats derived from milk products and spreads - all of which were classed as unhealthy - were linked to poorer cognitive and memory functions, and an increased risk of mild cognitive impairment at the 21-year follow-up stage.
The study, involving 2,000 participants, 1,449 of which took part in the follow-up 21 years later, revealed that those with a healthy diet comprising veggies, fruits, and fish in midlife benefited from a reduced risk of brain disease, and even moderate coffee consumption was deemed to be a good thing.
Furthermore, embarking on such a healthy diet at age 40 to 50 could help slow down the onset of Alzheimer's, even in those who are genetically at greater risk of developing the condition.
According to the Daily Express, researcher Marjo Eskelinen said: "These findings are important because the dementia process is a long process, and the first changes in the brain may have already started by the age of 40-50 years - about 20 years before the clinical diagnosis.
"Based on the results, by reducing the intake of saturated fats in your diet and by increasing the intake of unsaturated fats as early as at midlife, you may decrease the risk of dementia in later life."
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