What to eat to prevent cognitive decline in mild cognitive impairment

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Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is a condition characterized by a decline in cognitive abilities that is greater than expected for normal aging but does not meet the criteria for dementia.

Nutritional interventions have shown promise in benefiting cognition in individuals with MCI.

However, there is a need to synthesize existing evidence to provide recommendations for clinical and public health settings.


The objective of this study was to conduct a systematic review to examine the effect of dietary patterns, specific foods, and nutritional supplements on cognitive decline in individuals with MCI.


The researchers followed the guidelines outlined in the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis Protocols 2015 statement.

They searched multiple databases including Medline, EMBASE, and CINAHL, among others, to identify relevant systematic reviews and meta-analyses published between 2005 and 2020.

The included studies had to be in English and report on the effectiveness of nutritional interventions on cognition in individuals with MCI.


Out of the 6,677 records initially identified, 20 reviews met the inclusion criteria.

Most of the reviews were limited by the quality of the primary studies and the small sample sizes. Nevertheless, the reviews showed positive results for several interventions.

B vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids, and probiotics were among the interventions that received consistent support from the reviews, with 12, 11, and 4 primary studies respectively showing positive effects on cognition.

Souvenaid, a specific nutritional drink, and the Mediterranean diet also demonstrated potential in reducing cognitive decline and progression to Alzheimer’s disease, but the evidence was limited to single trials with fewer than 500 participants.

There were also indications from studies with small sample sizes that vitamin D, a low-carbohydrate diet, medium-chain triglycerides, blueberries, grape juice, cocoa flavanols, and Brazil nuts may improve specific cognitive subdomains.

However, more research is needed to confirm these findings.


Based on the systematic review, only a few nutritional interventions were found to convincingly improve cognition in individuals with MCI.

The existing evidence is limited by the quality of the primary studies and the small sample sizes.

Therefore, further high-quality research is required to determine the effectiveness of nutritional treatments in improving cognition and potentially reducing the progression to dementia in individuals with MCI.

The research was published in Nutrition Review.

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