Physicians group: Eating meat ‘increases risk for Alzheimer’s disease’
The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine’s (PCRM) “Breaking News” published online last July 27 that diet may be the most important risk factor for contracting Alzheimer’s disease risk. PCRM cited as its research source the Journal of the American College of Nutrition.
Alzheimer’s disease is a common type of dementia, or decline in intellectual function. This debilitating disease affects not only the elderly, but even an individual in his or her 40s.
The author of the research (Grant WB, using multicountry ecological and observational studies to determine dietary risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease) used dietary data from 10 countries and several other studies on diet and Alzheimer’s disease and assessed disease risk for several dietary factors.
Consumption of meat increased disease risk the most, followed by eggs and high-fat dairy, while high intakes of fruits, vegetables and grains reduced the risk for Alzheimer’s disease. Possible mechanisms for such a correlation to occur would include increased intakes of metal ions, such as copper and saturated fat, both prevalent in meat.
John Robbins, author of “Healthy at 100,” cited the Abkhasians, Vilcabambans, Hunzans and elder Okinawans, who eat whole foods, plant-based diets high in antioxidants. He said that “this is now known to be one of the key reasons they have such extraordinarily low rates of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.” He added that antioxidants are “extraordinarily important when it comes to preventing Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of senility and cognitive decline.”
Antioxidants are found in fresh vegetables, whole grains, fresh fruits and legumes such as soy. Carotenoids, the substances in fruits and vegetables that give their deep, rich colors, are antioxidants. Vitamin C and E are also antioxidants, as are the minerals magnesium and zinc.
In the book “The China Study,” scientist T. Colin Campbell, PhD, and coauthor Thomas M Campbell II, MD, pointed to one of the risk factors of cognitive impairment: “nasty free radicals, which wreak havoc on brain function in our later years.”
“Because free radical damage is so important to the process of cognitive dysfunction and dementia, researchers believe that consuming dietary antioxidants can shield our brains from this damage, as in other diseases. Animal-based foods lack antioxidant shields and tend to activate free radical production and cell damage, while plant-based foods, with their abundant antioxidants, tend to prevent such damage.”
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