February 29, 2024

The impact of sustainable diets οn cognitive function in an ageing society: A mini-review

M Gouela et al, 2024. The impact of sustainable diets οn cognitive function in an ageing society: A mini-review, Maturitas.


The increasing number of older people raises important health concerns because, in part, of the associated cognitive and functional impairment. The United Nations is taking action with its Decade of Healthy Ageing (2021−2030) campaign, by promoting Sustainable Development Goals and shifting our focus towards more sustainable diets. In this mini-review, sustainable dietary patterns are evaluated, with a focus on healthy plant-based diets, the Mediterranean diet, the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet, and the Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay diet. The review analyzes and describes whether older people’s cognitive performance can benefit from the adoption of these sustainable diets. The results of primary studies indicate that the Mediterranean diet and healthy plant-based diets can prevent cognitive impairment by improving cognitive function, language and memory. Plant-based dietary patterns with incorporated Mediterranean foods (high consumption of fruit, vegetables, and fish) are associated with delayed cognitive ageing. Additionally, adherence to the Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay diet is associated with improved cognitive resilience and lower risk of dementia after 16 years of follow-up. Although consumption of red meat and elevated body mass index are both associated with cognitive dysfunction, some studies have had contradictory findings. Concerns exist regarding the development of chronic diseases, cognitive and functional impairment, as well as disability as age advances. Thus, the policies of the United Nations should ensure healthy ageing for all older individuals. Nonetheless, more research is required to evaluate older people’s willingness and readiness to adopt a more sustainable way of eating.

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