At age 65, people who eat healthy are cognitively strong as people who are 63 years old and eat a less healthy diet. Cognitive function also deteriorates more slowly in people who eat healthy food. The older you get, the greater the difference in perception between healthy and unhealthy people. This is evidenced by a study by the Royal Institute of Pharmaceutical Industries among more than three thousand physicians who were followed for twenty years.
estimated 290,000 Dutch people have dementia. Lots of studies Demonstrate a link between a healthy lifestyle and cognitive functions in old age. This group study, which has followed participants’ behavior and health for more than 25 years, confirms the assumption that healthy eating is good for the brain.
Room for improvement
Whether the participants are single Mediterranean diet Follow , Dutch pentagon Or the Views of the World Health Organization, They scored better on tests than their peers who followed a less healthy diet. So you don’t have to live in the Mediterranean or follow a Mediterranean diet to stay mentally healthy for longer while eating a healthy diet. The guidelines for a good diet contain the same elements everywhere: lots of vegetables, fruits and whole grains, less saturated fat, less processed and red meat, and less salt and sugar.
Don’t eat the healthiest combination strictly according to the guidelines. On average, they scored 80 points out of 130 for Healthy Eating. So there is still room for improvement among the healthiest people. Then the effect can get stronger, “says researcher Monique Verchuren.
Not only the memory, but also the flexibility and speed with which the brain’s processing information is tested. Moreover, participants were questioned about diseases and conditions, measured and weighed, and completed questionnaires about their diet.
People with higher education generally also eat healthy food
People who are more educated, who are physically active, smoke less often and weigh less, and also eat generally healthy food. However, the link between diet and cognition persisted after researchers filtered out other factors. In people who ate healthily with a higher risk of developing genetically determined Alzheimer’s disease, researchers saw more than average cognitive gains.
Also read: Healthy living as medicine
Most people know that a healthy diet is important for preventing cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. It is not known that it can also slow cognitive decline and reduce the risk of developing dementia, ”says Verchuren.
Jaap Seidel, professor of nutrition and health at Victoria University, thinks this is the most important message from the research. He was not involved, but he was one of the initiators of the study of Doetinchem thirty years earlier. “It is good to stress that not only are nutritional guidelines in place to prevent health problems now, but a healthy lifestyle also has a long-term effect.”
When asked about the limitations of this study, he said: “Epidemiology remains: In large population studies, you can never rule out all the factors that cause unhealthy behavior. But in combination with experiments that show what happens with overeating in the brain, for example. It is increasingly likely that a healthy lifestyle has an impact on mental health. ”