Dietary patterns, foods, and food groups: relation to late-life cognitive disorders

C. Custodero 1, V. Valiani 1, P. Agosti 1, A. Schilardi 1, A. D’Introno 1, M. Lozupone 2, M. La Montagna 4, F. Panza 2 3 5, V. Solfrizzi 1, C. Sabbà 1

1 Geriatric Medicine-Memory Unit and Rare Disease Centre, University of Bari Aldo Moro, Bari, Italy; 2 Neurodegenerative Disease Unit, Department of Basic Medicine, Neuroscience, and Sense Organs, University of Bari Aldo Moro, Bari, Italy; 3 Geriatric Unit & Laboratory of Gerontology and Geriatrics, Department of Medical Sciences, IRCCS “Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza”, San Giovanni Rotondo, Foggia, Italy; 4 Psychiatric Unit, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, University of Foggia, Foggia, Italy; 5 Department of Clinical Research in Neurology, University of Bari Aldo Moro, “Pia Fondazione Cardinale G. Panico“, Tricase, Lecce, Italy

The limited efficacy of disease-modifying therapeutic strategies for mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and Alzheimer’s dementia (AD) underscores the need for preventive measures to reduce the burden of late-life cognitive impairment. The aim of the present review article was to investigate the relationship among dietary patterns, foods, and food groups and late-life cognitive disorders considering the results of observational studies published in the last three years (2014-2016). In the last decade, the association between diet and cognitive function or dementia has been largely investigated. However, more recently, the National Institute on Aging-Alzheimer’s Association guidelines for AD and cognitive decline due to AD pathology introduced some evidence suggesting a direct relation between diet and changes in the brain structure and activity. Several studies focused on the role of the dietary patterns on late-life cognition, with accumulating evidence that combinations of foods and nutrients into certain patterns may act synergistically to provide stronger health effects than those conferred by their individual dietary components. In particular, higher adherence to a Mediterranean-type diet was associated with decreased cognitive decline, although the Mediterranean diet (MeDi) combines several foods, micronutrients, and macronutrients already separately proposed as potential protective factors against dementia and MCI. Moreover, also other emerging healthy dietary patterns such as the Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension (DASH) and the Mediterranean-DASH diet Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay (MIND) diets were associated with slower rates of cognitive decline and significant reduction in AD rate. Furthermore, some foods or food groups traditionally considered harmful such as eggs and red meat have been partially rehabilitated, while there is still a negative correlation of cognitive functions with added sugars and trans fatty acids, nutrients also increasing the cardiovascular risk. This would suggest a genesis for the same damage for aging brain.

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