Eat Better, Think Better | AARP 2017 Survey on Brain Health and Nutrition
What: A recently released AARP survey of adults ages 40+ found that individuals who eat the USDA recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables are significantly more likely to report better brain health and have higher than average mental health scores. The online survey, which included over 2,000 Americans, found that hardly any of the participants ate the recommended amounts of foods in all 5 food groups, and that a full third of those responding did not consume the recommended amount in any food group. However, 9 out of 10 respondents stated that they would eat a healthy diet if they were aware it could reduce their risk for cognitive decline, heart disease, or diabetes.
Why This Matters: Eating a balanced diet and maintaining a healthy weight have been identified as key factors in reducing dementia and stroke risk. Patterned diets, such as the Mediterranean or MIND diet, have also demonstrated significant impact on reducing risk for neurodegeneration as well, more recently, possibly improving daily performance. This survey is an eye-opening overview of the dietary habits of older adults, the possible relationship between their nutritional intake and cognitive fitness, and the potential for shifting these behaviors to improve cognitive outcomes.
The Takeaway: We have a responsibility to educate our entire population regarding the brain health benefits of eating a healthy diet, both as it impacts everyday performance and long-term well-being. Research shows that even modest changes can make the difference, and that we are never too old (or young) to start eating healthier for our brains. AARP’s partner organization, The Global Council on Brain Health, has released a report with evidence-based recommendations to improve nutrition in older adults, along with infographics and other educational materials you can use to supplement TBH Toolkits workouts on brain health nutrition or use on your own.
Global Council on Brain Health. Brain Food: GCBH Recommendations on Nourishing Your Brain Health. Washington, DC: Global Council on Brain Health, January 2018. https://doi.org/10.26419/pia.00019.001