A healthy lifestyle may slow down memory decline

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In a study from Capital Medical University and elsewhere, scientists found a healthy lifestyle, in particular a healthy diet, is associated with slower memory decline in older people.

In the current study, researchers aimed to identify an optimal lifestyle to protect against memory loss in older people.

They examined more than 29,000 older people from areas in the north, south, and west of China.

These people aged 60 years or older and had normal cognition and underwent apolipoprotein E (APOE) genotyping in 2009 before the study. They were followed up until death or 26 December 2019.

Six healthy lifestyle factors were examined: a healthy diet (adherence to the recommended intake of at least 7 of 12 eligible food items);

Regular physical exercise (≥150 min of moderate-intensity or ≥75 min of vigorous-intensity, per week); active social contact (≥twice per week), active cognitive activity (≥twice per week);

never or previously smoked, and never drinking alcohol.

Participants were categorized into the favorable group if they had four to six healthy lifestyle factors, into the average group for two to three factors, and into the unfavorable group for zero to one factor.

The researchers also examined the memory function in these people.

Over the 10-year follow-up period, the team found people in the favorable group had slower memory decline than those in the unfavorable group.

The researchers also found APOE ε4 carriers with favorable lifestyles exhibited a slower memory decline than those with unfavorable lifestyles.

Among people who were not carriers of APOE ε4, similar results were found among participants in the favorable and average groups compared with those in the unfavorable group.

APOE ε4 status and lifestyle profiles did not show a strong interaction effect on memory decline.

Based on the findings, the team concludes that a healthy lifestyle is linked to slower memory decline, even in the presence of the APOE ε4 allele.

This study might offer important information to protect older adults against memory decline.

The study was conducted by Jianping Jia et al and published in The BMJ.

If you care about brain health, please read studies about how the Mediterranean diet could protect your brain health, and blueberry supplements may prevent cognitive decline.

For more information about brain health, please see recent studies about antioxidants that could help reduce dementia risk, and flavonoid-rich foods could improve survival in Parkinson’s.

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