Associations of Midlife Dietary Patterns with Incident Dementia and Brain Structure: Findings from the UK Biobank Study

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

  • Jingyun Zhang
  • Xingqi Cao
  • Xin Li
  • Xueqin Li
  • Meng Hao
  • Yang Xia
  • Huiqian Huang
  • Jørgensen, Terese Sara Høj
  • George O Agogo
  • Liang Wang
  • Xuehong Zhang
  • Xiang Gao
  • Zuyun Liu

BACKGROUND: At present, the results on the associations between dietary patterns and the risk of dementia are inconsistent, and studies on the associations between dietary patterns and brain structures are limited.

OBJECTIVE: We aimed to investigate the associations of midlife dietary patterns with incident dementia and brain structures.

METHODS: Based on the UK Biobank Study, we investigated the 1) prospective associations of four healthy dietary pattern indices (healthy plant-based diet index [hPDI], Mediterranean diet score [MDS], Recommended food score [RFS], and Mediterranean-Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension Intervention [DASH] Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay Diet [MIND]) with incident dementia (identified using linked hospital data; N = 114,684; mean age, 56.8 years; 55.5% females) using Cox proportional-hazards regressions and the 2) cross-sectional associations of these dietary pattern indices with brain structures (estimated using magnetic resonance imaging; N = 18,214; mean age, 55.9 years; 53.1% females) using linear regressions. A series of covariates were adjusted, and several sensitivity analyses were conducted.

RESULTS: A total of 481 (0.42%) participants developed dementia during the average 9.4-year follow-up. Although the associations were not statistically significant, all dietary patterns exerted protective effects against incident dementia (all hazard ratios < 1). Furthermore, higher dietary pattern indices were significantly associated with larger regional brain volumes, including volumes of gray matter in the parietal and temporal cortices and volumes of the hippocampus and thalamus. The main results were confirmed via sensitivity analyses.

CONCLUSIONS: Greater adherence to hPDI, MDS, RFS, and MIND was individually associated with larger brain volumes in specific regions. This study shows a comprehensive picture of the consistent associations of midlife dietary patterns with the risk of dementia and brain health, underscoring the potential benefits of a healthy diet in the prevention of dementia.

Original languageEnglish
JournalThe American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)218-227
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Copyright © 2023. Published by Elsevier Inc.

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