The research is based on a large-scale metabolomic study with 842 people over 65 years of age.
A diet rich in fruits and other products of plant origin reduces the risk of cognitive impairment and dementia in older people, according to a study by the Spanish University of Barcelona (UB) that also reveals the benefits of cocoa, coffee, mushrooms, red wine and foods rich in polyphenols, as well as the harm of artificial sweeteners.
The research, published in the journal Molecular Nutrition and Food Research, has been carried out with a large-scale metabolomic study with 842 people over 65 years of age from the Bordeaux and Dijon regions (France) who have been followed for twelve years.
The work has been directed by Cristina Andrés-Lacueva, professor at the Faculty of Pharmacy and Food Sciences and head of the Research Group on Biomarkers and Nutritional Metabolomics of Foods at the UB and the Center for Network Biomedical Research on Frailty and Aging (CIBERFES), which is also part of the Catalan Food Innovation Network (XIA) (north).
As explained by the researcher Mireia Urpí-Sardà, from the Department of Nutrition, Food Sciences, and Gastronomy and CIBERFES, “what we have analyzed in the cohorts object of the study is the modulating role that diet has in the risk of suffering deterioration cognitive”.
“The results show a significant association between these processes and certain metabolites”, has summarized Urpí-Sardà.
The results reveal a protective association between metabolites derived from cocoa, coffee, mushrooms, and red wine, the microbial metabolism of foods rich in polyphenols (apple, cocoa, green tea, blueberries, oranges, or pomegranates), and cognitive impairment in older people.
Analysis of plasma samples indicated that some metabolites are related to the progression of cognitive impairment and dementia.
According to Professor Andrés-Lacueva, “for example, 2-furoylglycine and 3-methylxanthine, which are biomarkers of coffee and cocoa consumption, presented a protective profile, while saccharin – derived from the consumption of artificial sweeteners – is associated to a damaging role ”.
Mercè Pallàs, professor at the Faculty of Pharmacy and Food Sciences and member of the Institute of Neurosciences (UBNeuro) of the UB, has highlighted that “studying the relationship between cognitive impairment, microbiota, and food metabolism and endogenous metabolism is essential to develop preventive and therapeutic strategies that help cognitive health ”.
Thus, according to the study authors, changes in lifestyle and diet are decisive as a strategy to prevent cognitive decline and its progression in neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.