Anemia-Dementia Link: Can Eating Steak Ward Off Alzheimer's? [STUDY]

By iScienceTimes Staff on August 1, 2013 8:05 PM EDT

steak
Iron-rich foods like steak and spinach can help keep anemia at bay, which in turn helps prevent dementia, a new study finds. (Photo: Reuters)

Researchers looking into the anemia-dementia link have found that eating iron-rich foods, like steak or spinach, can help ward off brain degenerative diseases such as Alzherimer's. 

In a new study published in Neurology, researchers found that people with anemia were more likely to develop Alzheimer's or similar dementia conditions. In the study, which looked at some 2,500 people between the ages of 70 and 79, lead author Kristine Yaffe of the University of California, San Francisco, speculated that the reason for the anemia-dementia link is that anemia reduces oxygen to the brain, limiting a person's memory and ability to think. 

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In Yaffe's study, 393 of the participants who had anemia, or 23 percent, developed some form of dementia. However, only 366 participants who didn't have anemia, or 17 percent, developed dementia. This anemia-dementia link took into consideration other relevant factors like age, race and sex.

"I've been studying Alzheimer's for a long time," said Yaffe. "In particular, I'm interested in things you can modify: cardiovascular disease, sleep, physical activity. We've done a number of studies looking at how different chronic diseases of the body effect aging. We started looking into the issue of anemia...after seeing rudimentary studies that linked it to dementia."

Doug Brown of the Alzheimer's Society told the Daily Mail that while the anemia-dementia link is interesting, "more research is needed and we shouldn't make the jump to claim that anemia causes dementia."

He says you shouldn't exactly start gorging on steak, iron-rich though it is.

"Enjoy a balanced Mediterranean diet rich in fruit and vegetables, oily fish and even the occasional glass of red wine, take regular exercise and don't smoke," Brown said.

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