Plant-based diet reduces risk of cognitive impairment in the elderly, study says

There has been a steady increase in the consumption of plant-based diet in the country. With growing awareness, people are gradually adopting vegan eating habits to keep their health and environmental concerns in check. Experts have also regularly pointed out the health benefits of a plant-based diet. A recent study, once again, confirmed the same as it elucidated the health benefits of such a diet on elderly’s cognitive functions.

Conducted by University of Barcelona (UB) and the CIBER on Frailty and Healthy Aging (CIBERFES), the study found that a plant-based diet reduces the risk of cognitive impairment and dementia in the elderly.

Published in the ‘Molecular Nutrition and Food Research Journal’, it was carried out over 12 years with the participation of 843 people aged over 65 in the Bordeaux and Dijon regions (France).

“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 ageing,” said Cristina Andres-Lacueva, lead author of the study. Thus, the report highlighted that healthy changes in lifestyle and diet can prevent cognitive deterioration and its “progression in neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and other dementias”.

The study analysed the relationship between the metabolism of dietary components, intestinal microbiota, endogenous metabolism and cognitive impairment.

Mireia Urpí-Sardà, from the Department of Nutrition, Food Science and Gastronomy and CIBERFES, noted, “what we analysed in the cohorts under study is the modulating role of the diet in the risk of suffering cognitive impairment.” Urpí-Sardà pointed out that “the results show a significant association between these processes and certain metabolites.”

As per the results, there’s a protective association between metabolites derived from cocoa, coffee, mushrooms and red wine, microbial metabolism of polyphenol-rich foods (apple, cocoa, green tea, blueberries, oranges or pomegranates) and cognitive impairment in the elderly.

Mercè Pallàs, professor at the Faculty of Pharmacy and Food Sciences and member of the Institute of Neurosciences (UBNeuro) of the UB, stated that “the study of the relationship between cognitive impairment, the metabolism of the microbiota and food and endogenous metabolism is essential to develop preventive and therapeutic strategies that help to take care of our cognitive health.”

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