Transcript: Preventing Alzheimer’s with Turmeric
There are anti-inflammatory drugs that may reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease but stomach, liver and kidney toxicity precludes their widespread use. So maybe using an anti-inflammatory food like the spice turmeric, found in curry powder, could offer the benefits without the risks? Before even considering putting it to the test, though, one might ask, "well, do populations that eat a lot of turmeric have a lower prevalence of dementia?" They may actually have the lowest reported prevalence of dementia and Alzheimer's. OK, so far so good. But maybe because it's such an impoverished area that victims there don't live very long, so you need to know more than just the prevalence—how many Alzheimer's cases are walking around, but the incidence of the disease, how many new people are getting it every year, which reflects the true rate of disease occurrence.
In rural Pennsylvania, the incidence rate of Alzheimer's disease among seniors is 19. Nineteen people in a thousand over age 65 develop Alzheimer's every year in rural Pennsylvania. In rural India, using the same diagnostic criteria, that same rate is 3, confirming they have among the lowest reported Alzheimer's rates in the world.
Although there isn't much to go on, the lower prevalence of Alzheimer's in India is generally attributed to the turmeric consumption as a part of curry, and it is assumed that people who use turmeric regularly have a lower incidence of the disease, but let's not just assume.
A thousand people tested and those who consumed curry at least occasionally did do better on simple cognitive tests than those who didn't. Those that ate curry often had only about half the odds of showing cognitive impairment, after adjusting for a wide variety of potential confounding factors. This suggests that curry consumption may be associated with better cognitive performance.
Of course it probably matters what's being curried—are we talkin' chicken masala, or chana masala, with chickpeas instead of chicks. It may be no coincidence that the country with among the lowest rates of Alzheimers has among the lowest rates of meat consumption, with a significant percentage of Indians eating meat-free and egg-free diets.
We've known for over 20 years now, that those who eat meat—red meat or white meat—appear between two to three times more likely to become demented, compared to vegetarians. And the longer one eats meat-free, the lower the associated risk of dementia, whether or not you curry favor, with your brain.
To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Katie Schloer.
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