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Diet Rich in Carbohydrates and Sugar Could Increase Alzheimer's Risk

Update Date: Oct 22, 2012 03:49 PM EDT

A new research from Mayo Clinic in America suggests that older people who eat a diet rich in carbohydrates and sugar, could increase their risk of developing mild cognitive impairment by 4 times.  

The research also suggests that plenty of consumption of proteins and fats could reduce the risk of cognitive decline.

Cognitive decline is a precursor to Alzheimer's disease. However, not everyone with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) develops Alzheimer's disease, lead author Rosebud Roberts, a professor in the department of epidemiology at the Mayo Clinic was quoted as saying by Mail Online.

MCI is a condition where memory loss is evident and apparent to the individual, as well as to people around them. However, MCI does not include other dementia symptoms such as changes in personality and mood.

There are studies which have suggested previously that every year, about 10-15 per cent of people with MCI later develop dementia.

Even though in community studies and clinical trials the rates are about half this level, but still represent a significantly increased level of risk, the report said.

Hence, it is important to identify people with MCI, and if they can be given an early treatment, they could benefit in the future.

For the current study, the researchers tracked 1,230 people aged between 70 and 89 and quizzed them about their diet, the previous year.

About 940 people from among the participants, who showed no signs of cognitive impairment, were followed up again every 15 months.

By the time the study reached its fourth year, 200 of the 940 participants began to show problems with memory, language, thinking and judgment.

It was found that when compared to people with lowest carbohydrate consumption, those with highest consumption of carbohydrates had a 3.68 times greater risk of MCI.

"If we can stop people from developing MCI, we hope we can stop people from developing dementia. Once you hit the dementia stage, it's irreversible," Professor Roberts told USA Today.

"A high-carbohydrate intake could be bad for you because carbohydrates impact your glucose and insulin metabolism. Sugar fuels the brain, so moderate intake is good. However, high levels of sugar may actually prevent the brain from using the sugar - similar to what we see with type 2 diabetes."

Further findings of the study revealed that people whose diets were rich in "good" fats, such as those found in nuts and healthy oils were 42 per cent less likely to get cognitive impairment and people who consumed a lot of proteins (such as meat and fish) had 21 per cent lesser risk.

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