Eating More Plants and Less Meat May Reduce Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), dementia affects more than 55 million people worldwide, and there are around 10 million new cases every year. The most common form of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease, which causes around 70% of cases.

Now, a comprehensive review of the evidence, published in The Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, has identified what types of diet may increase a person’s likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s, and which might have a protective effect.

The authors looked at multi-country ecological studies (which look for associations between factors and disease occurrence in populations) and prospective and cross-sectional observational studies (in which participants are assessed without any intervention by researchers) to determine the effects of different diets on Alzheimer’s risk.

In ecological studies, the researchers found that meat consumption was most strongly correlated with increased numbers of people with Alzheimer’s. They concluded that meat consumption was the single most important dietary risk factor for Alzheimer’s.

The observational studies looked at a range of dietary patterns, including: Western diet

Mediterranean diet, DASH(dietary approaches to stop hypertension) diet, MIND diet.

The Mediterranean diet reduced Alzheimer’s risk the most, with a relative risk 46% of the Western diet. For the MIND diet, relative risk was 47%, and for the DASH diet it was 61%. Plant-rich diets are known to benefit the gut microbiome.

Inflammation has been called a central mechanism for Alzheimer’s. Research suggests that inflammation contributes to both β-amyloid (Aβ) plaques and neurofibrillary tangles (NFTs), both of which are key factors in Alzheimer’s.

The authors identified several other risk factors, including oxidative stress, insulin resistance, and obesity, all of which they suggest can be addressed by modifying diet along the same lines. Although this study has identified diet as a key factor in Alzheimer’s risk, other modifiable lifestyle factors can also help to reduce the risk of developing this form of dementia.


Grant, William B. and Blake, Steven M. ‘Diet’s Role in Modifying Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease: History and Present Understanding’. 1 Jan. 2023 : 1353 – 1382. Retrieved online from: 

The Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. (2023). MedicalNewsToday. Retrieved December 12 from 

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