Credits: Rush University Medical Center

A Healthy Diet Prevents from Cognitive Decline

Cognitive impairment is a common public health problem that results from the number of contributing factors including age, socio-economic, demographic, genetic, and some environmental parameters such as nutrition. A study shows that many people with dementia and cognitive impairment will increase in the following decades in corresponding with the aging of the world populace.

A new study published in the journal Alzheimer’s and Dementia finds that a Mediterranean diet high in vegetables, whole grains, olive oil, and fish is related to higher cognitive functions. Dietary factors can also cause a decline in cognitive function.

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This study is done by the researchers at the National Eye Institute (NEI), part of the National Institutes of Health who analyzed the data from the Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) and AREDS2. The cognition of the participants was tested at various intervals.

In AREDS there were four thousand participants without AMD while four thousand participants in the AREDS2 with AMD. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control reports that there are sixteen million Americans who are living with cognitive impairment.

A study published in 2001, found that the age-related macular degeneration is highly less in the people whose diets are high in fish and vegetables. This happens due to two naturally produced antioxidants that are lutein and zeaxanthin. These antioxidants are found in all vegetables but mainly in green and leafy vegetables like kale, spinach, broccoli, peas, and parsley.

Mediterranean diet reduces the risk of cognitive impairment from 45 to 50 percent. Dr. Richard Isaacson finds that brain health and impaired cognitive functions can be controlled through simple dietary choices.

The M.D, director of the NEI Division of Epidemiology and Clinical Applications and lead author of the study, Emily Chew tells that people generally do not focus on their diets. They have to explore the effects of nutrition on the brain and eye.

In this study, the effects of nine components of the Mediterranean diet are examined on cognition. The research emphasizes the consumption of seven components of Mediterranean diet including whole grains, fish, olive oil, vegetables, fruits, legumes, and nuts while the consumption of alcohol and red meat should be reduced in the diet.

The AREDS and AREDS2 participants were assessed only at the start of the study. In the AREDS study, cognitive functions of participants were tested at five years while in AREDS2, the participants’ cognitive functions were tested at baseline and then two, four and ten years later.

Participants with the best adherence to the Mediterranean diet were at the least danger of cognitive impairment. High fish and vegetables seemed to have the best protective impact. At ten years, AREDS2 participants with more fish consumption had the slowest rate of cognitive decline.

Researchers also suggest that consumption of tea or coffee may have a beneficial effect on cognition. Some studies provide evidence that caffeine present in coffee and tea reduce the rate of cognitive decline.

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Also, the participants with the ApoE gene had a lower cognitive function and the decline rate was more than those who had not the gene. ApoE gene also increases the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. The advantages of close adherence to a Mediterranean diet were comparative for individuals with and without the ApoE gene, implying that the impacts of diet on cognition are independent of genetic risk for Alzheimer’s disease.

A trustee of the McKnight Brain Research Foundation, Dr. Richard Isaacson tells that Future examinations will assist with explaining to what extent an individual needs to make a dietary change before observing an effect on cognitive outcomes.