Worried about aging? This diet can help protect against dementia, says study

These dietary recommendations could be key to protecting your brain function and health as you age

Elderly man drinks a freshly blended smoothie from bottle
(Image credit: Getty)

When you are young it is important to eat well to help you grow and this shouldn't stop with age. In fact it is just as important to eat well as an aging adult in order to protect your brain health and to avoid the development of things like dementia or Alzheimer's.

Whether you already take things like the best fish oil supplements to top up on omega-3 fatty acids (which are recommended for good brain health), science has found that eating a diet rich in plant products can lower the risk of cognitive impairment and dementia among the elderly.

The study published in the Molecular Nutrition and Food Research journal looked into the role of the diet and people's likelihood of suffering from cognitive impairment later in life. 

The research was conducted over twelve years and over this period the scientists analyzed data from 842 people aged 65 or over. 

Data obtained from plasma samples highlighted that certain metabolites (a substance made or used when the body breaks down food) are associated with the progression of deteriorating brain function and the development of brain diseases like dementia.

However, not all metabolites have this same impact. As the research team found a protective link between metabolites sourced from cocoa, coffee, mushrooms and red wine, the microbial metabolism of polyphenol-rich foods and cognitive impairment among the elderly.

Foods rich in polyphenols can be found in cocoa, green tea, oranges, apple, pomegranate and bluberries.

A spread of cocoa in its varying forms on a table

(Image credit: Getty)

So if you are looking to protect your brain from cognitive deterioration and neurodegenerative diseases as you age then it can be helpful to begin by looking at your diet and lifestyle.

Professor Cristina Andrés-Lacueva, from the University of Barcelona where the research was carried out said, "A higher intake of fruits, vegetables and plant-based foods provides polyphenols and other bioactive compounds that could help reduce the risk of cognitive decline due to aging," says Cristina Andrés-Lacueva.

You can read up on how to incorporate more plant-based foods into your diet for the new year with a best vegan cookbook

Plus, there are other studies published that specifically link exercise to improved brain health, including the prevention of dementia. For example, this study found that adults who moved more achieved higher results in a memory and thinking test, and increases in physical activity significantly lowered the risk of dementia for participants.

Walking is an excellent and one of the more accessible physical activities to pick up no matter what age you are. A twenty-minute walk can be a good lifestyle habit to pick up in 2022 with a pair of best shoes for walking to hand.

Jessica Downey
Jessica Downey

Jessica is Staff Writer at Fit&Well. Her career in journalism began in local news and she holds a Masters in journalism. Jessica has previously written for Runners World, penning news and features on fitness, sportswear and nutrition. She is a keen runner and is currently sweating her way through a 10k training plan. Jessica also enjoys building on her strength in the gym and is a believer in health and wellness beginning in the kitchen - which she loves sharing with others on her healthy living-inspired Instagram account, @jessrunshere. Despite her love for nutritious cooking, she stands by the saying ‘everything in moderation’ and is eagerly conquering the London food and drink scene!