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A healthy diet of fruits, vegetables, lentils, tea and coffee can help the body in more ways than initially thought.

Already known for as anti-inflammatory agents, these foods might also help lower the risk of dementia, according to a new study.

In the study by Neurology, 1,000 individuals were tracked as they consumed a healthy diet of anti-inflammatory foods over a three-year period. Compared to their peers, who ate a high-calorie diet, the group who followed a balanced diet demonstrated a lower propensity for developing dementia.

Scientists ranked the various diets of the participating groups. The higher number indicates a more calorie-rich diet. On average, the diet scores of people who developed dementia were unsurprisingly higher.

Among the older group of participants, those who consumed the least inflammatory foods were three times more likely to develop dementia.

The study took a close look at people’s age since dementia generally develops at the latter stage of life. Other correlation of disease include sex (women are higher risk) and education levels. Individuals with more education under their belt are less likely to develop cognitive decline later in life.

Even with these known correlations, the study demonstrated that a poor diet could have a direct link to health outcomes of the mind. Across demographics, a one-point decrease in the diet rubric is associated with a higher likelihood for developing illness, underscoring the importance of well-balanced eating habits at every age.

The study builds on previous research that draws a line between foods without inflammatory-fighting properties and poorer memory at a younger age.

For this study, researchers tracked people 65 years and older to key in on the age at which dementia symptoms are more likely to manifest. Participants with the best diets ate 20 pieces of fruit, 19 servings of vegetables, four servings of legumes and 11 cups of coffee or tea during an average week. In contrast, those with poorer diets ate an average of nine pieces of fruit, 10 servings of vegetables, two servings of legumes and nine cups of a caffeinated drink over the same time period.

Of course, there’s no cure for Alzheimer’s or the many causes of dementia symptoms, but new research is constantly shedding light on possible breakthroughs in medications that can slow the disease, along with preventive measures, like healthy diets, that are also showing promise.

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