Our mental abilities include how well we reason, remember, make decisions, solve problems, pay attention, learn and think. Sometimes our mental abilities lag a bit as we get older, but yet another study, this time from Canada, has found a connection between what we eat and how well we retain our mental faculties.
A team of researchers looked at information gathered in the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging that included over 8,500 people, aged 45 to 85, who lived in the community and had not been diagnosed with dementia.
The people who participated in the study were given two verbal fluency tests over the course of the study. Verbal fluency, or how well we can access and verbalize words stored in our brain, is often used to measure how sharp someone is mentally.
High blood pressure, obesity and a high percentage of body fat were all found to be linked to worse verbal fluency scores.
Older adults are often subject to undernutrition due to poor appetite, challenges in preparing food or eating low-quality diets. So they may end up not getting enough nutrition, much less the amount of fruits and vegetables that could protect their mental abilities.
One way to check for malnutrition among seniors is a grip strength test. Grip strength is a measurement of muscle health in the hands and forearms, and testing it in older adults in one way of assessing overall well-being. Among the people in the study, those with poor grip strength who were also at risk for malnutrition scored lower on verbal fluency tests, as well.
Blood pressure, weight and body fat were the other health parameters studied in relation to mental ability. High blood pressure, obesity and a high percentage of body fat were all found to be linked to worse verbal fluency scores.
The study is published in the Journal of Nutrition Health and Aging.