Healthy Eating May Stave Off Dementia

Is memory loss an inevitable part of the aging process? It's not uncommon to be a little more forgetful as you get older. Your brain ages just like the rest of your body. Fortunately, healthy lifestyle habits can go a long way in preventing age-related memory loss and promote brain health, according to a recent study published in The Lancet.

In the study, researchers followed 1,260 people (ages 60 to 77) for two years. They wanted to find out if lifestyle habits have an impact on brain function as people aged. One group received regular advice about diet, exercise, and healthy aging. The other group received the same type of information along with in-person coaching with health professionals that included activities and advice designed to promote health, prevent disease, and improve or maintain brain function and memory.

While researchers expected to see slightly better results for the second group that met with health professionals, the outcomes were still surprising. When people received health information and worked with doctors, nurses, and other health professionals, they scored 150 percent higher for mental processing and 25 percent higher for overall brain health, compared to the group that only received health information.

Think healthy lifestyle habits can have an impact on brain health? When researchers further examined the results, they also found that people who received health information and coaching scored 83 percent higher for organizing and regulating thoughts than the other group. Healthy eating and lifestyle habits may help stave off dementia and other brain-related diseases like Alzheimer's disease.

If you want to protect your health and your brain, healthy lifestyle habits make a difference.

  • Fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables. Eat more whole grains, nuts and seeds, legumes, lean meats and fish and drink plenty of water. (If you need help planning healthy meals, check out MagicKitchen.com.)
  • Exercise at least 30 minutes a day by taking a walk, following along in a fitness class, strength training, or doing some other form of physical activity.
  • Keep your brain active by reading interesting content, books, and articles. Try crossword puzzles, Sudoku puzzles, word games, and games that require thinking and strategy. And enjoy lively and engaging conversation with others.