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What is a diet that delays dementia?


Dementia is per cruel disease that robs people of their memory, their judgment, and their identity. Sadly, there’s no cure, and in the last few years, a number of clinical studies for new dementia drugs have failed the most recent being Biogen’s drug aducanumab. Without any effective treatment on the horizon, most peoples best hope is to avoid having dementia in the first place. Among the hallmarks of dementia is cognitive decline. There are various changes in lifestyle that might slow cognitive decline, like doing mentally stimulating activities, getting plenty of exercises and maintaining a healthful diet especially one low in unhealthy fats, refined carbohydrates, and sugar.

Diet to delay cognitive decline

Of those, diet is a favorite among health reporters, perhaps since the message can be delivered clearly and succinctly. The most recent such story comes from the Daily Mirror which states that eating just two types of nuts a day increases brain function by 60%. After assessing the diets of nearly 5, 000 adults in China over a period of 9 years, the researchers found an inverse relationship between the number of nuts people ate and the degree of cognitive decline they experienced. People who consumed more than 10g of nuts and seeds a day were less likely to show a fall in their cognitive function compared with people who consumed less than 10g a day.

Two types of nuts per day might preserve cognitive performance

Out from the 4, 822 participants in the study, 67% had their cognitive ability tested twice. Where one or more cognitive measurement was made, cognitive performance decreased with time, but individuals who ate more than 10g of nuts per day decreased the probability of this decline. Consequently, the results suggest that consuming two types of nuts per day might preserve cognitive performance and might lead to better cognitive aging during a lifetime. The results don’t show that eating nuts improve cognitive function, as the Mirror headline claimed. Limitations – Participants in the study unavoidably varied on several factors, including education, general health, nutritional intake and lifestyle factors, like exercise.

Ingestion of certain foods does not prevent dementia

Even though the way the data was analyzed took those factors into account and still found an association, cognitive decline and dementia are strongly influenced by many environmental and genetic factors, and it’s unlikely that consumption of one particular food is sufficient to ward off dementia. Another weakness of this study is the fact that participants reported their nut consumption through a questionnaire. Evidence shows that self-reported food consumption must always be interpreted with caution. Even though randomized controlled trials indicate that eating nuts have an effect on the flow of blood, there is not enough evidence to draw conclusions about their impact on cognitive function. What we may say at this point is the evidence on nuts and cognitive decline is promising, but it’s not strong enough to make nutritional recommendations.