The benefits of a healthy diet may extend to cognitive health, according to findings presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in London. Among nearly 6,000 older adults in the Health and Retirement study, investigators found that those who consistently followed diets long known to contribute to cardiovascular health were also more likely to maintain strong cognitive function in old age. In particular, they found that the specially designed Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay (MIND) diet was associated with 30 to 35 percent lower risk of cognitive impairment in healthy older adults. The MIND diet is a hybrid of the Mediterranean diet and Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH). The results also indicated that those with healthier diets exhibited meaningful preservation of cognitive function.
The relationship to diet and cognition was the subject of other studies presented at AAIC, as well. One study found that 2,200 older adults on the Healthy Nordic Diet—which is rich in vegetables, certain fruits, fish, and poultry—enjoyed better cognitive status than those on a less healthy diet. Another study with 7,000 participants found that older women who ate diets traditionally thought of as heart-healthy were less likely to develop dementia.
For additional insights on the latest developments in Alzheimer's disease research and management, see the June 2017 edition of Practical Neurology®.