‘Recipe’ for dementia found, and the secret is not eating these foods together

You’ve probably heard all about the “brain-boosting” foods that can lower your risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia. And it’s true that a lot of foods have been linked to a lower risk of cognitive decline.

Fatty fish, dark chocolate, coffee, blueberries, turmeric — they’ve all been tied to better brain health for people as they age.

But one area that often gets overlooked when we talk about diet and dementia is food pairing. What foods are you eating together? And does that have any impact on your dementia risk?

Your microbiome isn’t a silo, after all. All the foods you eat interact to create a unique bacterial community that impacts your risk of dementia, as well as your risk of a lot of other diseases. So, does food pairing matter when it comes to dementia risk?

Recent research shows it probably does…

Pairing this food with processed meat raises dementia risk

A new study published in the online journal Neurology found that eating certain foods together affects your dementia risk.

The five-year study included 209 people who had dementia and 418 people who didn’t. Researchers had everyone complete a food questionnaire at the start of the study, and they got medical check-ups every two to three years after.

Related: Processed meat’s disease links stretch from cancer to asthma

When researchers examined the food questionnaires, they noticed one big difference between what people with dementia ate versus people without it…

People with dementia ate a lot of processed meat. And they paired that processed meat with starchy foods like potatoes, alcohol, cookies and cakes. In other words, someone with dementia was more likely to pair their bratwurst with a baked potato, while someone without dementia was more likely to pair it with broccoli.

There was one other big difference between the diets of people with dementia and those without — diversity. People without dementia ate a far more diverse diet that included a variety of healthy foods like fruits, veggies, seafood and poultry.

Pair with caution

So, the moral of the study is, be careful what foods you pair together. If you’re going to indulge in something unhealthy, like a hot dog, pair it with a salad instead of fries.

Of course, you should try your best to steer clear of unhealthy foods like processed meats and starchy foods altogether when possible. And eat a diverse range of fresh, whole foods. There’s also nothing wrong with turning to those proven “brain boosters” I mentioned earlier for some extra support. Here are a few specific foods you can put on your grocery list for better brain health:

Editor’s note: No matter how careful you are about doing all the right things for a healthy brain, one medication could possibly wipe it all out. That’s because a popular drug makes it FOUR times more likely you’ll lose your memories. Are you taking it? Click here to find out


  1. Which foods do you eat together? How you combine them may raise dementia risk — MedicalXpress.
  2. 11 Best Foods to Boost Your Brain and Memory — Healthline.
Jenny Smiechowski

By Jenny Smiechowski

Jenny Smiechowski is a Chicago-based freelance writer who specializes in health, nutrition and the environment. Her work has appeared in online and print publications like Chicagoland Gardening magazine, Organic Lifestyle Magazine, BetterLife Magazine, TheFix.com, Hybridcars.com and Seedstock.com.