Anti-inflammatory Diet May Lower Risk of Cognitive Impairment

A new study found that an anti-inflammatory diet was linked with a 21 percent reduction in cognitive impairment, and a protein-rich diet was associated with a nine percent reduction.  

Cognitive impairment, or cognitive decline, is common in older people. It ranges from being more forgetful to dementia and Alzheimer’s. Age-related cognitive impairment impacts 11.7 percent of people over 65.

Lifestyle factors can impact brain health. The CDC says 40 percent of dementia cases could be prevented or delayed by having better blood pressure, healthier blood sugar, healthy body weight and good nutrition. Getting enough exercise, avoiding excess stress, spending time outdoors, getting the right amount of sleep and seeing family and friends can also prevent cognitive decline.

Both the high-protein diet and the anti-inflammatory diet can aid brain aging. A high-protein diet includes meat, fish, eggs, dairy and beans. An anti-inflammatory diet also includes beans but focuses more on fruits, veggies, nuts and tea.  

The researchers stressed that when switching over to a new style of eating, you should do so gradually. Fad diets and restrictive eating plans aren’t sustainable and cannot help the brain. Instead, they recommend slowly cutting back on sugar and processed food while adding more whole foods to your diet.

Dr. Richard Pemberton, a Certified Lifestyle Physician, said, “This exciting research further demonstrates that a poor diet detrimentally impacts not only our physical health but also our mental and brain health. We also hope this provides further evidence to motivate us all to make better lifestyle choices, to improve our health and reduce the risk of developing chronic disease.”

The researchers acknowledged that healthy, unprocessed foods can be more expensive. They believe that research like theirs should push public policy to make healthy foods more accessible and affordable. Right now, that goal isn’t achievable for everyone.

The scientists believe that the reason diet may impact the brain so much is because of the gut’s microbiome. We have trillions of microorganisms living in our intestines that play a vital role in digestion and the immune system. More and more research is suggesting the microbiome also impacts our brain function and mental health. Eating the correct diet may nourish the microbiome in a way that aids cognition.

This research reminds us that lifestyle and diet play a huge role in every aspect of health. Making healthy dietary choices doesn’t just matter for your blood sugar; it helps every part of your body as you age!

Banner image: Ella Olsson via Pexels

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