Healthy diet helps preserve cognitive functions and delay dementia: RIVM
A healthy and balanced diet can help preserve cognitive functions, delaying the onset of dementia, according to a study conducted by the RIVM. The investigation revealed that participants above the age of 45 who stuck to public health guidelines about healthy eating showed better cognitive function than those who did not.
On average, the cognitive functions of a person with an unhealthy diet deteriorated two years earlier compared to someone with a more balanced diet. For example, the cognitive abilities of a 65-year-old with a healthy diet were the same as the cognitive abilities of a 63-year-old with an unhealthy diet.
The general cognitive functions of participants that ate healthily declined on average seven percent slower between the ages of 55 and 75 compared to their peers with an unhealthy diet.
The RIVM study was specifically examining the effects of diet on the deterioration of cognitive functions and aging. Ultimately, the RIVM said there is no known cure for dementia. Yet before dementia fully develops, there is a long period during which cognitive functions decline. A healthy diet can slow down this process, delaying the onset of dementia.
Healthy habits like eating sufficient fruits, vegetables and fiber contributed to the preservation of cognitive ability, as did limiting the intake of saturated fats, salt and added sugar. One such diet particularly mentioned in the study was the Mediterranean diet which includes high consumption of plant-based foods and olive oil.