By Rebecca Fending
It’s likely that you’ve heard that various lifestyle choices can affect your brain health, namely in developing dementia. Things such as a lack of quality sleep, a lack of exercise and even smoking can all contribute to the development of dementia or Alzheimer’s, though genetics play a large part, too. However, a Japanese study conducted in 2011 found that those who skip breakfast run a greater risk of developing the condition.
The link between skipping breakfast and dementia
Conducted over six years, the study consisted of 525 seniors, aged 65 years or older. Researchers found that dementia was “four times higher among participants who did not take breakfast.”
They also found a a diagnosis of dementia was 2.7 times higher among participants who did snack, 2.5 times higher among participants who did not care for salt consumption and 2.7 times higher among participants who did not care for nutrient balance.
“According to our results, several lifestyle habits were associated with dementia,” researchers concluded. “Appropriate interventions are required for high-risk individuals, including those with mild cognitive impairment.”
So, just why does skipping breakfast lead to an increased risk of dementia? The term “breakfast” quite literally means that we are breaking our fast after sleeping for multiple hours at a time. Breakfast is a crucial meal due to its affect on our glucose levels. A lack of fuel from food diminishes cognitive functions due to an overall lack of energy and distraction from tasks at hand due to hunger cues, whether subconscious or noticeable. Over time, this starvation of the brain can have major affects later in life, such as dementia.
What’s the best diet to ward off dementia?
Although eating breakfast everyday can help keep your cognitive functions up and running, you may need to do more for your brain than just a healthy omelet. According to many researchers and nutritionists, a diet focused on heart health is the key to keeping your mind young and active. Ideal diets include the Mediterranean diet and the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet, both of which focus on reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease.
“Both diets are backed by lots of research showing they can help your heart health, and some evidence to suggest they can contribute to lower levels of mental decline,” according to the British Heart Foundation.
To learn more about dementia warning signs, preventative measures and general information, visit the Alzheimer’s Association at alz.org, or find more related articles from “Lifestyles After 50” on our site here.