Eating well to remember
UTS research fellow Dr. Luna Xu has studied data from 139,000 older Australians and found strong links between certain food groups, memory loss, and comorbid heart disease or diabetes.
Dr. Xu found high consumption of fruit and vegetables was linked to lowered odds of memory loss and its comorbid heart disease. High consumption of protein-rich foods was associated with better memory. Dr. Xu also found the link between a food group and memory status may vary among different older age groups. People aged 80 years and over with low consumption of cereals are at the highest risk of memory loss and their comorbid heart disease, her research showed.
"Our present study implies that the healthy eating suggestions of cereals consumption in the prevention of memory loss and comorbid heart disease for older people may differ compared to other age groups," said Dr. Xu, who holds a Heart Foundation postdoctoral research fellowship. She said the study pointed to a need for age-specific healthy dietary guidelines.
Memory loss is one of the main early symptoms for people with dementia, which is the second leading cause of death of Australians. People living with dementia have on average between two and eight comorbid conditions, which may accelerate cognitive and functional impairment. The most common comorbidities in dementia include cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and hypertension.