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Health Spotlight: Right foods can reduce risk of dementia

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Can the right diet really reduce your risk for dementia?

The type of food you eat can make a difference.

More than 6 million people 65 and older in the United States have dementia. By 2050, that number is expected to double to nearly 13 million.

But a series of new studies reveals people can reduce the risk of dementia with the foods they choose to eat.

You are what you eat.

Hariom Yadav, director of the University of South Florida Center for Microbiome Research, Microbiomes Institute, said, “The gut influences very heavily the whole body physiology.”

New research shows many people may be eating their way to dementia. The main culprit: ultraprocessed foods including fast foods, chips, frozen meals and sodas.

Researchers in Brazil found those who got 20% or more of their daily calorie intake from processed foods had a 28% faster rate of cognitive decline than those who ate less processed foods. That means in a standard diet of 2,000 calories a day, 400 calories worth of processed foods can cause a lot of damage.

But, there is good news. “If you eat the right diet, you can reduce that risk,” Yadav said.

People can still eat a lot of unprocessed foods such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains to combat that risk.

A study from Rush University Medical Center found people who for 4-1/2 years closely followed something called the MIND Diet — it focuses on eating mainly vegetables, fish, chicken and whole grains — reduced their risk for Alzheimer’s disease by 53%, giving people some food for thought.

This story was created from a TV script by News 8’s Lena Pringle.