A diet rich in plant products reduces the risk of cognitive impairment and dementia in the elderly. This is the finding of a study by the University of Barcelona Biomarkers and Nutritional Food Metabolomics Research Group of the Faculty of Pharmacy and Food Sciences and the CIBER on Frailty and Healthy Aging.
This European study, part of the Joint Programming Initiative “A Healthy Diet for a Healthy Life” was carried out over 12 years with the participation of 842 people aged over 65 in the Bordeaux and Dijon regions of France.
The study looked at the relationship between the metabolism of dietary components, intestinal microbiota, endogenous metabolism and cognitive impairment.
As Mireia Urpí-Sardà, from the Department of Nutrition, Food Science and Gastronomy and CIBERFES, noted, “what we analyzed 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.”
The results reveal 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.
The analysis of plasma samples indicated that some metabolites are related to the progression of cognitive impairment and dementia. As Professor Cristina Andrés-Lacueva explained, “for example, 2-furoylglycine and 3-methylanthine, which are biomarkers of coffee and cocoa consumption, had a protective profile, while saccharin –derived from the consumption of artificial sweeteners– is associated with a damaging role”.
Changes in lifestyle and diet are decisive as a strategy to prevent cognitive deterioration and its progression in neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and other dementias.
“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”, says Professor Andrés-Lacueva.