Diet and lifestyle changes may slow cognitive decline

September 14, 2020 in Brain Health, Healthy Eating, Nutrition for Older Adults, Nutrition Topics in the News

Diet and lifestyle changes may slow cognitive decline

Lifestyle changes may improve cognition in older adults who experience cognitive decline that precedes dementia, according to new research from The Australian National University.

For the study, 119 people ages 65 years and older, who were experiencing cognitive decline, were randomized to a control group or an intervention group for 8 weeks.

The control group received online information related to dementia and lifestyle risk factors, including the Mediterranean diet, physical activity and cognitive engagement. Participants were instructed to implement this information into their own lifestyles.

The intervention group received the same online information, as well as active components to assist with implementing this information into their lifestyles: dietitian sessions, an exercise physiologist session, and online brain training.

Over six months of follow-up, investigators noted that participants in the intervention group were able to improve their lifestyle and had higher cognition scores than those in the control group. The results suggest that lifestyle-based changes may modify the course of cognitive decline.

According to the researchers, what this study adds is that with the right intervention, people experiencing cognitive decline may retain sufficient neuroplasticity for their brain to 'bounce back' from decline. (Neuroplasticity is the ability of the brain to form and reorganize synaptic connections, especially in response to learning or experience or following injury.)

Source: Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, September 9, 2020.

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