A diet lacking in flavanols, nutrients present in several fruits and vegetables, has been linked to age-related memory loss, according to a ground-breaking study. The study, which involved more than 3,500 senior citizens, found a link between flavanol consumption and performance on memory tests. Particularly, after resupplying these nutrients, test results for persons over 60 with a slight flavanol insufficiency improved. The results support the idea that, like the growing brain, the ageing brain requires particular nutrients for optimum health.
Excerpts from the Study
The study discovered that mildly low levels of flavanol in persons over 60 increase performance on tests used to detect memory loss due to normal ageing and that flavanol intake among older adults correlates with results on these tests.
According to Adam M. Brickman, PhD, professor of neuropsychology at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons and study co-leader, “the improvement among study participants with low-flavanol diets was substantial and raises the possibility of using flavanol-rich diets or supplements to improve cognitive function in older adults.”
What Experts Say?
The discovery also lends credence to the growing notion that, like the developing brain, the ageing brain needs a certain combination of nutrients for healthy ageing. A balanced diet including plenty of foods rich in flavanols could help to protect against memory loss.
Scott A. Small, MD, the Boris and Rose Katz Professor of Neurology at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, is the study’s senior author and the Boris and Rose Katz Professor of Neurology. “The identification of nutrients critical for the proper development of an infant’s nervous system was a crowning achievement of 20th-century nutrition science,” says Dr. Small.
“As we live longer in this century, research is beginning to show that various nutrients are required to strengthen our ageing minds. Other researchers can use our findings as a model to find more essential nutrients because it uses indicators of flavanol consumption.”