Anti-Inflammatory Diet May Lower Risk of Dementia Later in Life


After adjusting for age, education level, and gender, each 1-point increase in dietary inflammatory score was linked to a 21% increase in cognitive impairment, study results show.

Individuals who consume an anti-inflammatory diet, including beans, coffee, fruits, tea, and vegetables, could have a lower risk of developing dementia later in life, the results of a new study show.

“Diet is a lifestyle factor you can modify, and it might play a role in combating inflammation, 1 of the biological pathways contributing to risk for dementia and cognitive impairment later in life,” Nikolaos Scarmeas, MD, PhD, of National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, said in a statement.

After adjusting for age, education level, and gender, each 1-point increase in dietary inflammatory score was associated with a 21% increase in dementia risk.

Those in the top third of individuals who consumed the best inflammatory diet were 3 times more likely to develop dementia than those in the lowest third of individuals who consumed the least inflammatory diet.

Individuals who participated in the study answered a food frequency questionnaire that is used to determine the inflammatory potential of an individual’s diet.

The questionnaire was used to gather information on the main food groups consumed during the previous month, including added fats, alcohol, cereals, dairy, fish, fruits, legumes, meat, stimulants, sweets, and vegetables.

A possible dietary inflammatory score can range from -8.87 to 7.98, with a higher score indicating a more inflammatory diet, which includes fewer servings of beans, coffee, fruits, tea, and vegetables.

Investigators found that during the follow up, an average of 3 years, about 6% developed dementia. Individuals who developed dementia scored an average of -0.6 compared with the average scores of -0.70 for those who did not develop dementia.

“Our results are getting us closer to characterizing and measuring the inflammatory potential of people’s diets,” Scarmeas said. “That, in turn, could help inform more tailored and precise dietary recommendations and other strategies to maintain cognitive health.”

The study was observational and shows an association between brain aging and dementia and diet.

The findings were published in Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.


An anti-inflammatory diet may be your best bet for cognitive health. EurekAlert. News release. November 10, 2021. Accessed November 12, 2021.

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