Using dietary data from cohort studies, the French and US researchers estimated the presence of advanced glycation end products (AGEs) in national diets and compared them to Alzheimer’s rates. AGEs can be formed by the body, but are also produced when foods are cooked at high temperatures – particularly meats, but also fish, cheese, vegetables and vegetable oil.
They found that diets containing larger quantities of AGEs were correlated with higher incidence of Alzheimer’s disease, while those containing fewer AGEs were linked to lower incidence.
“Our newly published paper is the first that estimated the AGE content of diets from observational studies in various countries, which estimated the link between dietary factors and risk of Alzheimer's disease,” the authors wrote.
“…In typical national diets, we found that meat made the highest contribution of AGEs, followed by vegetable oils, cheese, and fish. Foods such as cereals/grains, eggs, fruit, legumes, milk, nuts, starchy roots, and vegetables generally make low contributions to the total amount of AGEs in a diet, either because they are generally prepared at low temperatures or since they comprise smaller portions of diets.”
Researchers previously have linked AGEs with Alzheimer’s, and have suggested that these compounds could be one possible cause of the accumulation of amyloid plaques in the brain associated with the disease.
Increasingly, researchers have been investigating nutrition’s role in Alzheimer’s disease development, and dietary patterns including traditional Japanese and Mediterranean diets – which typically contain less meat – have been linked to lower Alzheimer’s risk.
While this latest study supports an association between increased meat and high-fat dairy intakes and Alzheimer’s risk, the researchers cautioned that mechanisms other than high temperature cooking could also explain the link. For example, meat and cheese are sources of cholesterol, which has also been linked to incidence of Alzheimer’s.
“Further dietary AGE restriction studies are necessary,” they concluded. “However, our data strongly underline the relevance of these cohort AGE restriction studies with the aim to find a nutrition strategy to prevent AD.”
Source: Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease
“Observational and Ecological Studies of Dietary Advanced Glycation End Products in National Diets and Alzheimer’s Disease Incidence and Prevalence”
Authors: Lorena Perrone and William B. Grant