People are living longer and one of the aspects of advanced age is the increase in the incidence of dementia. In addition to age-related cognitive decline there is a higher risk in the aging population of developing vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s disease associated with aspects of modern lifestyle.
Most worryingly, recent data reports accelerated cognitive decline in adolescents associated with poor diet (high fat and calorie intake). It goes to figure then that the increase in dementia in ‘old-age’ may have as much to do with ‘new-age’ lifestyle as it does with normal aging. There is some controversy surrounding the idea that midlfe obesity and being overweight contributes to Alzheimer’s disease despite a wealth of recent literature suggesting a clear link.
In February 2020, a team of researchers published findings in the journal CNS spectrums: The International journal of neuropsychiatric medicine.(1) Here they cautiously suggested:
“There was a significantly greater improvement in working memory assessed by the Spatial Working Memory for caloric restricted individuals, compared to (People who ate whatever they wanted). . .In the long term, caloric restriction in healthy individuals seems to have a slightly positive effect on working memory. The study of brain caloric restriction targets opens new possibilities to prevent and treat cognitive deficits.”
Building on this research is a September 2021 study (2) from doctors in the Netherlands. They write about the importance of diet and the gut-brain axis for brain health and cognitive function.
“Dietary interventions are tested for their potential to prevent and/or treat brain disorders. Intermittent fasting, the abstinence or strong limitation of calories for 12 to 48 hours, alternated with periods of regular food intake, has shown promising results on neurobiological health in animal models. . . Clinical studies show benefits of Intermittent fasting for epilepsy, Alzheimer’s disease, and multiple sclerosis on disease symptoms and progress. Findings from animal studies show mechanisms by which Parkinson’s disease, ischemic stroke, autism spectrum disorder, and mood and anxiety disorders could benefit from Intermittent fasting. Future research should disentangle whether positive effects of Intermittent fasting hold true regardless of age or the presence of obesity. Moreover, variations in fasting patterns, total caloric intake, and intake of specific nutrients may be relevant components of Intermittent fasting success.”
Caloric restriction may prevent memory loss as we age by counteracting overeating
A study in the journal Aging clinical and experimental research suggests: “Long-term consumption of a high-calorie diet affects the brain and increase the risk of neurodegenerative disorders, and consumption of a low-calorie diet (caloric restriction) could delay aging, and protect the central nervous system from neurodegenerative disorders.”(3)
Before we continue let’s read what a December 2020 paper titled: “Does calorie restriction improve cognition?” (4) suggests: “(Caloric restriction) has shown beneficial effects in the prevention and treatment of several chronic diseases and functional declines related to aging, such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and neuroendocrine disorders. However, the effects of Caloric restriction on cognition show controversial results since its effects vary according to intensity, duration, and the period of Caloric restriction.” This is a subject of intense debate.
Being overweight or obese in middle years increases the risk of dementia, Alzheimer’s Disease, and vascular dementia
Researchers writing in the medical journal Neurology (5) clearly state that being overweight or obese at midlife independently increases the risk of dementia, Alzheimer’s Disease, and vascular dementia.
Obesity is a risk factor for cognitive decline and dementia and researchers sought to identify whether weight loss improves cognition in older obese adults or if it was too late.
Fortunately, research found that weight loss in middle-aged and in older obese participants has a beneficial effect on cognitive and physical function. . . weight loss can significantly affect public health strategies for the prevention of dementia as well as on the clinical management of obesity.
Researchers writing in the medical journal Lancet (6) noted that reported cases of Alzheimer’s Disease will triple over the next 40 years and that they noted seven modifiable risk factors to aid in prevention. They include:
cognitive inactivity or low educational attainment,
and physical inactivity.
They suggest that half of all Alzheimer’s cases can be attributed to these factors singularly or in combination. The connection to obesity and factors related to obesity are apparent.
Being overweight or obese is not the only risk factors in accelerated mental decline in people with poor eating habits.
As suggested in research from published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition,(7) being overweight or obese is not the only risk factors in accelerated mental decline in people with poor eating habits. Recent research is out that suggests that older adults with diabetes and poor blood sugar control are at increased risk for greater memory decline.
Writing in the medical journal Archives of Neurology, (8) researchers found: “Among well-functioning older adults, diabetes mellitus and poor glucose control among those with diabetes mellitus are associated with worse cognitive function and greater decline. This suggests that severity of diabetes mellitus may contribute to accelerated cognitive aging.”
Cognitive function is not generally correlated with diet, and there is debate over that association.
A 2018 study (9) noted “Cognitive function is not generally correlated with diet, and there is debate over that association.” The researchers of this study then aimed to investigate the association between dietary intake and cognitive function among adults aged 50 years or older. to test the theory. What they found was:
“Associations were significant between the risk of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and the intake of certain food types. Specifically, a moderate (reduced) intake of cooked white rice and an adequate intake of whole grains, fruits, milk, and dairy products were associated with reduced risks of mild cognitive impairment among adults aged over 50 years.
At the Magaziner Center for Wellness, we treat problems of memory and cognitive decline with an individualized, patient-centered treatment plan.
Every person has a unique biochemistry which reacts to pollutants and toxins differently. In order to determine the factors that underlie each case, we utilize extremely thorough blood and urine tests, as well as a complete examination of every aspect of the body, from mitochondrial function to nutrient imbalances to heavy metal toxicity. We recommend dietary modifications to reduce foods that may cause inflammation while increasing intake of those that are anti-inflammatory. Brain inflammation is a hallmark of dementia and memory decline.
Treatment plans based on these findings may include chelation therapy, hyperbaric oxygen therapy, antioxidant nutritional supplements, intravenous vitamins, regenerative therapies, diet and nutrition.
1 Leclerc E, Trevizol AP, Grigolon RB, et al. The effect of caloric restriction on working memory in healthy non-obese adults. CNS Spectr. 2020;25(1):2-8. doi:10.1017/S1092852918001566.
2 Gudden J, Arias Vasquez A, Bloemendaal M. The Effects of Intermittent Fasting on Brain and Cognitive Function. Nutrients. 2021 Sep;13(9):3166.
3. Dong W, Wang R, Ma LN, Xu BL, Zhang JS, Zhao ZW, Wang YL, Zhang X. Influence of age-related learning and memory capacity of mice: different effects of a high and low caloric diet. Aging Clin Exp Res. 2015 Jul 3. [Epub ahead of print]
4 Dias IR, de Sousa Santos C, e Magalhães CO, de Oliveira LR, Peixoto MF, De Sousa RA, Cassilhas RC. Does calorie restriction improve cognition?. IBRO reports. 2020 Dec 1;9:37-45.
5. Xu WL, Atti AR, Gatz M, Pedersen NL, Johansson B, Fratiglioni L. Midlife overweight and obesity increase late-life dementia risk: a population-based twin study. Neurology. 2011 May 3;76(18):1568-74.
6 Barnes DE, Yaffe K. The projected effect of risk factor reduction on Alzheimer’s disease prevalence. Lancet Neurol. 2011 Sep;10(9):819-28. Epub 2011 Jul 19.
7. Siervo M, Nasti G, Stephan BC, et al. Effects of intentional weight loss on physical and cognitive function in middle-aged and older obese participants: a pilot study. J Am Coll Nutr. 2012 Apr;31(2):79-86.
8. Yaffe K, Falvey F, Hamilton N, et al. Diabetes, Glucose Control, and 9-Year Cognitive Decline Among Older Adults Without Dementia. Arch Neurol. 2012;():1-6. doi:10.1001/archneurol.2012.1117
9 Kim KY, Yun JM. Association between diets and mild cognitive impairment in adults aged 50 years or older. Nutr Res Pract. 2018;12(5):415-425. doi:10.4162/nrp.2018.12.5.415