Older adults who follow a Mediterranean diet are at lower risk of cognitive decline, according to a study published in the journal Molecular Nutrition and Food Research. The study provides new evidence for a better understanding of the biological mechanisms linked to the impact of diet on the cognitive health of the aging population. The study is led by Mireia Urpí-Sardá, lecturer and member of the Biomarkers and Nutritional and Food Metabolomics research group of the Faculty of Pharmacy and Food Sciences, Institute of Nutrition and Food Safety ( INSA-UB), from the Institute of Nutrition and Nutrition. Torribera Campus of the University of Barcelona and the CIBER on Frailty and Healthy Aging (CIBERFES).
This European study, part of the Joint Programming Initiative “Healthy Food for a Healthy Life” (JPI HDHL), took place over twelve years and involved 840 people over 65 (65% of whom were of women) in the Bourdeaux region. and Dijon in France.
Healthy diet and cognitive performance
According to Cristina Andrés-Lacueva, professor at UB and head of the CIBERFES group, “as part of the study, we designed a food metabolomic index — based on biomarkers obtained from the serum of the participants — on the food groups which are part of the Mediterranean diet. Once this index is known, its association with cognitive disorders is evaluated.”
In the study, baseline levels of saturated and unsaturated fatty acids, gut microbiota-derived polyphenol metabolites, and other phytochemicals in serum that reflect individual bioavailability were chosen as biomarkers. Some of these indicators have not only been recognized as signs of exposure to the major food groups of the Mediterranean diet, but have also been held responsible for the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet.
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The metabolome or set of metabolites – linked to diet and derived from the activity of the intestinal microbiota – was studied from the start of the study using large-scale quantitative metabolomic analysis using the serum of participants without dementia. Cognitive disorders were assessed by five neuropsychological tests over twelve years.
Accordingly, the study reveals a protective association between Mediterranean diet score based on serum biomarkers and cognitive decline in older adults.
Biomarkers to study the benefits of diet
According to Mercè Pallàs, professor at the UB Institute of Neurosciences (UBneuro), “the use of diet indices based on biomarkers of food intake constitutes a step forward towards the use of dietary methodologies. “more precise and objective dietary assessment that takes into account important factors such as bioavailability”.
Expert Alba Tor-Roca, first author of the study and CIBERFES researcher at UB, explains that “we found that adherence to the Mediterranean diet assessed by a panel of dietary biomarkers is inversely associated with long-term cognitive decline. term in the elderly. These results support the use of these indicators in long-term follow-up evaluations to observe the health benefits associated with the Mediterranean diet or other dietary patterns and, therefore, guide personalized counseling at older ages.
Reference: Tor-Roca A, Sánchez-Pla A, Korosi A et al. A Mediterranean diet-based metabolomics score and cognitive decline in older adults: a case-control analysis nested in the three-city cohort study. Mol Nutrit Food Res. 2023: 2300271. do I: 10.1002/mnfr.202300271
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