Cognitive and emotional dysfunctions are becoming more prevalent in our culture. The precise variables and underlying mechanisms that cause these illnesses have yet to be identified. Aside from our genetic make-up, the interaction between certain environmental difficulties that occur throughout well-defined developmental stages appears to play a crucial effect. Interestingly, such brain dysfunction frequently co-occurs with metabolic diseases (e.g., obesity) and/or bad dietary habits; obesity and poor diet can contribute to significant health consequences such as cognitive and mood dysfunctions, implying a strong connection between these aspects.
A recent study of data from two major eye disease studies found that following the Mediterranean diet, which is high in vegetables, whole grains, seafood, and olive oil, corresponds with better cognitive performance.
Obesity affects more than one-third of American adults, and the situation is similar around the world. Caloric intake and food composition have enormous and long-lasting effects on cognition and emotion, particularly during important developmental stages, but the brain processes underlying these effects are poorly understood. A comprehensive grasp of the cognitive–emotional processes behind impulses to overeat foods can aid in more effective obesity prevention and treatment.
We are not always mindful of our eating habits. We need to look at how nutrition impacts the brain and eyes. Dietary considerations appear to decrease cognitive deterioration as well.Emily Chew
According to a recent study of data from two major eye disease studies, following the Mediterranean diet, which is strong in vegetables, whole grains, seafood, and olive oil, is associated with improved cognitive function. Dietary considerations appear to decrease cognitive deterioration as well. The study of data from the Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) and AREDS2 was led by researchers at the National Eye Institute (NEI), part of the National Institutes of Health. Their findings were published in the journal Alzheimer’s and Dementia today.
“We are not always mindful of our eating habits. We need to look at how nutrition impacts the brain and eyes” Emily Chew, M.D., director of the NEI Division of Epidemiology and Clinical Applications and main author of the study, explained.
The researchers looked at the effects of nine Mediterranean diet components on cognition. The diet emphasizes entire fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, legumes, seafood, and olive oil, as well as limiting red meat and alcohol consumption.
AREDS and AREDS2 studied the effect of vitamins on age-related macular degeneration (AMD), which destroys the light-sensitive retina over time. AREDS included approximately 4,000 people with and without AMD, while AREDS2 included approximately 4,000 participants with AMD.
At the commencement of the studies, the researchers analyzed the diet of AREDS and AREDS2 participants. The AREDS study assessed participants’ cognitive function after five years, whereas the AREDS2 study assessed participants’ cognitive function at baseline and again two, four, and ten years afterwards. To assess cognitive function, the researchers used standardized assessments based on the Modified Mini-Mental State Examination, as well as other examinations. They investigated diet by administering a questionnaire that asked participants about their average consumption of each Mediterranean diet component over the previous year.
Participants who adhered to the Mediterranean diet the most had the lowest risk of cognitive impairment. Consumption of fish and vegetables appeared to have the strongest protective impact. At ten years, AREDS2 participants who consumed the most fish had the least rate of cognitive impairment.
The numerical variations in cognitive function ratings between participants with the highest adherence to a Mediterranean diet vs those with the lowest adherence were quite minor, implying that individuals are unlikely to notice a difference in daily function. However, at the population level, the data clearly suggest that nutrition has an impact on cognition and neural health.
The researchers also discovered that people with the ApoE gene, which puts them at high risk for Alzheimer’s disease, had worse cognitive function scores and a greater decrease than those who did not have the gene. The benefits of following a Mediterranean diet closely were identical for those with and without the ApoE gene, indicating that food’s effects on cognition are independent of genetic risk for Alzheimer’s disease.
With more than 100 million adults globally expected to suffer dementia by 2050, cognitive decline is becoming an increasingly serious public health issue. As a result, there has been a surge in interest in preventive strategies that reduce this risk. Lifestyle factors, particularly food patterns, have been identified as potentially relevant in the prevention of cognitive decline and dementia in later life.