How a Healthy Diet Can Help You Stay Mentally Sharp Longer?

Discover The Essential Nutrients and Foods That Boost Cognitive Function and Protect Your Brain
Healthy diet in youth and middle age can keep your brain sharp in senior years (Created by Susanta with Bing AI)
Healthy diet in youth and middle age can keep your brain sharp in senior years (Created by Susanta with Bing AI)
Summary

Eating a healthy diet in youth and middle age can keep your brain sharp in senior years, according to a new study that followed over 3,000 people for nearly 70 years. This research, presented by Kelly Cara, PhD, from Tufts University at NUTRITION 2024, shows that good eating habits early in life help prevent Alzheimer’s and cognitive decline.

The study found that people with better diets had better cognitive abilities over time. A diet rich in plant-based foods, antioxidants, and healthy fats supports brain health by reducing stress on brain cells and improving blood flow.

Eating more vegetables, fruits, legumes, and whole grains while reducing sodium, added sugars, and refined grains can protect brain health. Adjusting your diet at any age to include these foods can improve overall health.

The findings are preliminary and need further research, especially in more diverse populations.

Healthy diet can help prevent Alzheimer’s disease and age-related cognitive decline (Created by Susanta with Bing AI)
Healthy diet can help prevent Alzheimer’s disease and age-related cognitive decline (Created by Susanta with Bing AI)

Eating a high-quality diet in youth and middle age can help keep your brain functioning well in your senior years. This is according to new preliminary findings from a study that followed over 3,000 people for nearly seven decades.

The research adds to growing evidence that a healthy diet can help prevent Alzheimer’s disease and age-related cognitive decline. Most previous research focused on the eating habits of people in their 60s and 70s. However, this new study is the first to track diet and cognitive ability from age 4 to 70. It suggests that the links between diet and brain health may start much earlier than previously thought.

“These initial findings support current public health guidance. It's important to establish healthy dietary patterns early in life to support and maintain health throughout life,” said Kelly Cara, PhD, a recent graduate of Tufts University. “Our findings also suggest that improving dietary patterns up to midlife may influence cognitive performance and help lessen cognitive decline in later years.

Cara presented the findings at NUTRITION 2024, the annual meeting of the American Society for Nutrition.

Cognitive performance or thinking ability, can improve well into middle age but typically begins to decline after age 65. Dementia and other severe conditions can also develop with aging. Researchers say that eating a healthy diet, especially one rich in plant-based foods with antioxidants and healthy fats, can support brain health. This is because such a diet reduces oxidative stress and improves blood flow to the brain.

The new research used data from 3,059 U.K. adults enrolled as children in the National Survey of Health and Development. This cohort, known as the 1946 British Birth Cohort, provided data on diet, cognitive outcomes, and other factors over more than 75 years.

Researchers analyzed participants’ dietary intakes at five timepoints and their cognitive abilities at seven timepoints. They found that dietary quality was closely linked with trends in general cognitive ability. For example, only about 8% of people with low-quality diets sustained high cognitive ability, and only about 7% of people with high-quality diets sustained low cognitive ability over time.

Cognitive ability affects quality of life and independence as we age. (Image provided by Pixabay)
Cognitive ability affects quality of life and independence as we age. (Image provided by Pixabay)

Cognitive ability affects quality of life and independence as we age. At age 68-70, participants with the highest cognitive scores had better working memory, processing speed, and overall cognitive performance than those with the lowest scores. Nearly one-quarter of the lowest-scoring group showed signs of dementia, while none of the highest-scoring group did.

Most people improved their diets throughout adulthood. However, early diet quality seemed to influence later eating habits. “Early dietary habits may affect our food choices later in life, and the cumulative effects of diet are linked to cognitive ability,” said Cara.

To measure diet quality, researchers used the 2020 Healthy Eating Index. This index assesses how well diets align with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Participants with the highest cognitive scores ate more vegetables, fruits, legumes, and whole grains, and less sodium, added sugars, and refined grains.

“Diet patterns rich in whole or minimally processed plant foods, like leafy greens, beans, whole fruits, and whole grains, may be the most protective,” said Cara. “Adjusting your diet at any age to include more of these foods can improve health, including cognitive health.”

The study primarily included Caucasian individuals from the U.K. Further research is needed to see if the results apply to more diverse populations. Despite some gaps and inconsistencies in data collection, researchers could assess cognitive abilities over time using multiple measures.

Cara presented this research on July 1 at NUTRITION 2024 in Chicago.

Please note that while the findings presented at NUTRITION 2024 were evaluated by experts, they have not undergone the peer review process required for publication in scientific journals. Therefore, these findings should be considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal. (Newswise/SKS)

Healthy diet in youth and middle age can keep your brain sharp in senior years (Created by Susanta with Bing AI)
Can a Healthy Diet Reduce a Person’s Risk of Dementia?
logo
Medbound
www.medboundtimes.com