Monday, July 30, 2012

Overeating Can Double the Risk of Memory Loss Leading to Cognitive Decline

Compelling research will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology's 64th Annual Meeting to explain how overeating may double the risk of memory loss, or mild cognitive impairment (MCI), among people aged 70 and older. Cognitive decline threatens the very nature of who we are and how we interact with others and the number of individuals experiencing the normal loss of thought and memory has been increasing over the past half century.

Loss of cognition and early stage dementia are both precursors to the devastating condition diagnosed as Alzheimer’s disease, said to affect nearly half of those aged 80 and above. Calorie restriction initiated early in life may be one of the most effective tools available to combat cognitive decline and memory loss leading to dementia.

High Caloric Intake is Shown to Double the Risk of Cognitive Decline in Seniors
The study was conducted using 1,233 individuals aged 70 to 89 who were free of dementia and living in Minnesota. Each participant filled out a questionnaire detailing the number of calories they ate or drank, and were then broken into three groups based on total caloric consumption. A third of the participants consumed between 600 and 1,526 calories per day, the middle third ranged between 1,526 and 2,143 and the top third consumed between 2,143 and 6,000 calories per day.

The lead study author, Dr. Yonas Geda noted of the initial findings, “We observed a dose-response pattern which simply means; the higher the amount of calories consumed each day, the higher the risk of MCI.” The team discovered that those consuming the highest number of calories (2,143 calories per day and up) more than doubled their risk for developing MCI. The researchers adjusted for history of stroke, diabetes, amount of education, and other factors that can affect risk of memory loss to reach their conclusion.

Dietary Restriction Lowers Oxidative Damage to Delicate Brain Structures
It is important to note that participants in the lower two-thirds experienced no increased risk of MCI, leading to the conclusion that the body is able to metabolize calories to an individual set point before cognition is impaired. Dr. Geda commented “excessive caloric intake may lead to oxidative damage leading to structural changes in the brain… cutting calories and eating foods that make up a healthy diet may be a simpler way to prevent memory loss as we age”.

It comes as no surprise to those following healthy lifestyle principles that caloric intake is yet another lifestyle factor found to affect the brain and impact normal thinking and memory processes as we age. Researchers have known for decades that calorie restriction is the only demonstrated mechanism to extend healthy lifespan, as it is shown to stress the body’s natural survival mechanism toward longevity. Cutting 20% of your daily calories in the form of hydrogenated and trans fats, refined carbohydrates and excess animal protein will not only help you maintain a normal body weight, but may help prevent cognitive decline in your senior years.