Healthy childhood diet can 'keep mind sharp into 70s' and ward off dementia

A lifelong commitment to a healthy diet could enhance cognitive function well into your 70s and potentially reduce the risk of dementia, based on a study tracking thousands of Britons over seven decades.

Unlike previous studies focusing on older adults, this research followed participants from age four to 70, suggesting that dietary habits established early in life may impact cognitive health later on.

Presented at the American Society for Nutrition's annual meeting, the findings highlight the role of a healthy diet in potentially slowing age-related cognitive decline and lowering Alzheimer's disease risk.

Kelly Cara from Tufts University underscores the importance of early dietary patterns in maintaining lifelong health, suggesting that improvements in diet up to midlife could positively influence cognitive performance in later years.

Cognitive abilities tend to peak in middle age but can decline after 65, often accompanied by conditions like dementia, according to the researchers.

Analyzing data from the 1946 British Birth Cohort, researchers found that diet quality across different life stages correlated closely with cognitive outcomes over time.

Participants with diets rich in vegetables, fruits, legumes, and whole grains showed sustained cognitive abilities, while those with poorer diets experienced greater cognitive decline as they aged.

The study emphasizes the importance of adopting healthy eating habits early in life, suggesting that diets high in plant-based foods and low in processed sugars and refined grains may offer cognitive benefits throughout adulthood.