Posted on Nov 21, 2023, 5 p.m.
Following a Mediterranean-style diet reduces the risk of cognitive decline among older people according to a new study led by Mireia Urpí-Sardá, adjunct lecturer and member of the Biomarkers and Nutritional & Food Metabolomics research group of the Faculty of Pharmacy and Food Sciences, the Institute for Nutrition and Food Safety (INSA-UB), the Food and Nutrition Torribera Campus of the University of Barcelona, and the CIBER on Frailty and Healthy Ageing (CIBERFES) published in the journal Molecular Nutrition and Food Research.
This study provides new evidence for a better understanding of the biological mechanisms related to the impact of diet on cognitive health in an aging population. Additionally, this European study is part of the Joint Programming Initiative: A Healthy Diet for a Healthy Life: (JPI HDHL). This study involved 840 participants aged 65+ in the Bourdeaux and Dijon regions of France over a period of 12 years.
According to Cristina Andrés-Lacueva, UB professor and head of the CIBERFES group, " within the framework of the study, a dietary metabolomic index has been designed -- based on biomarkers obtained from the participants' serum -- on the food groups that form part of the Mediterranean diet. Once this index is known, its association with cognitive impairment is evaluated."
Baseline levels of saturated and unsaturated fatty acids were measured, along with levels of gut microbiota-derived polyphenol metabolites and other phytochemicals in serum that reflected individual bioavailability as biomarkers. The metabolome related to food and derived from gut microbiota activity was studied through large-scale quantitative metabolomic analysis from the serum of participants without dementia at the beginning of the study. Participant cognitive ability/impairment was assessed with 5 neuropsychological tests over twelve years. According to the researchers, as a result, this study reveals a protective association between the Mediterranean diet based on scores, serum biomarkers, and cognitive decline in older people.
According to Mercè Pallàs, professor at the UB Neurosciences Institute (UBneuro), "the use of dietary pattern indices based on food-intake biomarkers is a step forward towards the use of more accurate and objective dietary assessment methodologies that take into account important factors such as bioavailability."
Expert Alba Tor-Roca, first author of the study and CIBERFES researcher at the UB, explains that "we found that adherence to Mediterranean diet assessed by a panel of dietary biomarkers is inversely associated with long-term cognitive decline in older people. These results support the use of these indicators in long-term follow-up assessments to observe the health benefits associated with the Mediterranean diet or other dietary patterns and therefore, guide personalized counselling at older ages."
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