Mediterranean-style diet linked to better cognitive functioning in elderly, Finds study
Researchers have recently noted that adherence to a Mediterranean-style diet is associated with better cognitive functioning, but not better brain structural integrity, in older adults, as published in the Experimental Gerontology Journal.
Few studies have explored dietary patterns with cognitive and neuroimaging outcomes. Therefore, Janie Corley colleagues from the Lothian Birth Cohorts Group, Department of Psychology, University of Edinburgh, UK conducted this present study to examine the cross-sectional associations between dietary patterns and cognitive and neuroimaging indices of brain health concurrently in the same sample of healthy older adults.
Dietary patterns were derived from a 130-item food frequency questionnaire for 511 individuals in the Lothian Birth Cohort 1936 (mean age 79.3 ± 0.6 years). Composite scores for global cognitive function, visuospatial ability, processing speed, memory, and verbal ability were assessed. Brain volumes and white matter microstructure were assessed in participants (n = 358) who also underwent structural magnetic resonance imaging.
A Mediterranean-style dietary pattern and a processed dietary pattern were identified using principal component analysis of food frequency questionnaire items.
The results showed that -
a. In fully-adjusted linear regression models, adherence to the Mediterranean-style pattern was associated with better verbal ability (β = 0.121, P = 0.002). b. Associations with global cognitive function (β = 0.094, P = 0.043), visuospatial ability (β = 0.113, P = 0.019), and memory (β = 0.105, P = 0.029) did not survive correction for multiple comparisons.
c. Associations between the processed pattern and lower cognitive scores were attenuated by around 50% following adjustment for prior (childhood) cognitive ability; only an association with verbal ability remained (β = −0.130, P = 0.001).
d. Neither dietary pattern was associated with brain volumes or white matter microstructure.
e. Specific Mediterranean diet features—green leafy vegetables and a low intake of red meat—were associated with better cognitive functioning.
Hence, these observational findings suggest that adherence to a Mediterranean-style diet is associated with better cognitive functioning, but not better brain structural integrity, in older adults, the authors concluded.