Healthy diet boosts brain power of older adults
There is new evidence from the American Academy of Neurology that a healthy diet can boost brain health in older adults at a high risk of heart disease.
Researchers examined the diets of nearly 28,000 people, ages 55 and up, who were at a high risk of heart disease. People with some health conditions were excluded; no participants were chosen who already had a history of diabetes, heart disease, stroke, peripheral artery disease, or congestive heart failure. Baseline measurements of cognitive health, thinking, and memory skills were tested at the beginning of the study, at two years, and again at about five years.
To measure diet, the participants were given a questionnaire at the beginning of the study to report how frequently they ate certain foods, including nuts, soy, fried foods, whole grains, vegetables, alcohol, fish, meat, and eggs. The quality of each participant’s diet was then measured against the healthy eating index used by the U.S. government.
The findings, which are published in the journal Neurology,revealed that brain decline was lower for people reporting the healthiest diets–14 percent of which showed a drop in thinking and memory compared with 18 percent of those eating the least healthy diets.
The study breakdown showed that of the 5,687 people reporting healthy diets, 782 made up the 13.8 percent showing mental decline, while of the 5,459 people reporting unhealthy diets, 987 made up for the 18.1 percent showing cognitive decline. The relative difference indicates a 24 percent lower likelihood of mental decline for people eating a healthy diet.
The study underscores the importance of a high-quality diet in maintaining healthy brain function in old age.