Eating more soy-based foods could lower risk of dementia, according to new study

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Something many people worry about as they get older is developing dementia. Now there may a way to reduce your risk by eating one thing.

Statistically, one-in-nine people over the age of 65 get diagnosed with dementia.

It’s something that touches many families.

Dr. Jaclynn Faffer, the president and CEO of Naples Senior Center, said that’s where their future plans come in. And Faffer knows the role a healthy diet plays in dementia care.

“We will have cooking demonstrations,” she details, “We will have farm-to-table programs.”

One ingredient that could keep your brain healthier, however, is soy.

New research out of the University of Pittsburgh finds a bacteria in your body called equol could lower your risk of developing dementia. Your body produces more equol if you eat soy.

Associate Professor of Epidemiology at Pitt Public Health, Dr. Akira Sekikawa, explains, “We found that the metabolite of soy isoflavone by good microbiome called equol had significant inverse association with the white matter lesion, which is very exciting.”

White matter lesions are the wearing away of brain tissue.

Sekikawa is a lead researcher on the project and calls those lesions predictors for dementia, cognitive decline, strokes, and death.

His study found participants with diets high in both soy and equol in their systems had 50% fewer incidents of lesions. But diet is just one piece of the puzzle.

“Not one single thing can prevent dementia,” Sekikawa explained. “It is the holistic approach that we need to take in our physical activity diet, sleep, or microbiome.”

Faffer laughed, saying, “Well, given that we’re not going to be doing that for another year and a half, let’s see what the research says then.”

She also says she’s going to wait and see before adding soy to the menu. Because American diets don’t heavily feature soy, it’s estimated only 20 to 30-percent of Americans can produce equol.

However, you can increase your chance of producing it by eating more tofu or soybeans.

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