Help Protect Your Brain

27 Oct

Healthy eating and lifestyle pay off in lower risk of mental decline.

Staying healthy and maintaining a normal weight may be good not only for you body but also for your brain. A 10 year study of 6,401 British civil servants, initially ages 39 to 63, reports an association between being overweight or obese and impaired cognitive function. Combined with other health issues (“metabolic abnormalities”) such as diabetes or high cholesterol, extra weight also increased the odds of mental decline over time.

“I think it is important to point out that metabolic abnormality was predictive of poorer cognitive performance regardless of BMI,” says Tammy Scott, PhD, a scientist at Tufts HNRCA Nutrition and Neuro-cognition Laboratory, “One of the most findings of this study, though, was that amongst metabolically healthy individuals, higher BMI was associated with worse cognitive function. Furthermore, in the metabolically unhealthy group, higher BMI was associated with greater cognitive decline over a 10 year period. This trend over time was not seen in the metabolically healthy group.”

These associations, Scott says, underline the importance of maintaining a healthy weight, not only for your physical health but, apparently, for a healthy brain as well. Like obesity and overweight, moreover, most of the metabolic abnormalities also associated with poorer cognitive performance can be combated with healthy eating and lifestyle.

Source: Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter 2016

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