A diet high in plant-based foods could reduce the risk of cognitive impairment and dementia in the elderly. A new study published in Molecular Nutrition and Food Research found that dietary changes could prevent cognitive deterioration. This could often progress onto neurodegenerative diseases. Among these are Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.
The 12-year-long study was carried out by researchers at the University of Barcelona.
More than 800 people aged 65 and over took part in the program.
“We analysed the modulating role of the diet in the risk of suffering cognitive impairment,” explained researcher Mireia Urpí-Sardà.
“The results show a significant association between these processes and certain metabolites.”
Researchers observed that eating foods like cocoa, coffee, mushrooms, and red wine could protect against cognitive impairment.
They also found that the microbial metabolism of apples, cocoa, green tea, blueberries, oranges, and pomegranates, which are high in polyphenols, could further protect brain functioning.
According to the study, metabolites like 2-furoylglycine and 3-methylanthine, which are signs of coffee and cocoa consumption, “had a protective profile”.
While saccharin, for example, which indicates artificial sweetener consumption, was associated with a damaging effect on the brain.
Professor Mercè Pallàs, from the University of Barcelona, commented: “The study is essential to develop preventive and therapeutic strategies that help to take care of our cognitive health.”
Switching to a more plant-based diet could indeed prevent dementia.
Eating more fruit, vegetables, and legumes after 70 means absorbing more polyphenols and bioactive compounds.
These “could help reduce the risk of cognitive decline due to ageing”, according to researchers.
According to Angela Murad, a wellness dietitian at the Mayo Clinic, a diet approach could be a good choice to cut the risk of dementia.
A diet that “goes big on natural plant-based foods, while limiting red meat, saturated fat, and sweets” could reduce the chance of Alzheimer’s by up to 53 percent.
She pointed out that there are foods that have been found essential for dementia prevention.
These include vegetables, especially leafy greens, grains and berries.
Angela Murad recommended a total of 15 diet tweaks to help preserve brain health.
Aside from being high in greens, diets should cut down on fruit and sugar, except for berries, which could be eaten twice a week.
Red meat should be eaten less than four times a week, poultry twice, and fish at least once a week.
Among the foods that should be limited in servings are butter and margarine, cheese, pastries and alcohol.
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