Staples of a Mediterranean diet

Seniors educated on the benefits of a healthy lifestyle, Mediterranean diet, physical activity and cognitive engagement made enough changes to improve cognition after earlier testing for mild impairment, Australian researchers reported this week.

In a study of 119 community-dwelling older adults, half of all participants were offered sessions with dietitians and an exercise physiologist, as well as access to online brain training and general information on improving lifestyle to improve cognition.

After eight weeks, those receiving the supports showed “significantly higher” cognition scores than those who received education only on all four topics.

“A secondary analysis demonstrated that the changes in lifestyle were driven by increases in protective lifestyle factors … rather than a reduction in risk factors,” the researchers The Australian National University in Canberra reported in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society Wednesday.

Evaluation was based on the university’s Alzheimer’s Disease Risk Index and the Alzheimer’s Disease Assessment Scale‐Cognitive subscale, Pfeffer Functional Activities Questionnaire, Symbol Digit Modalities Test, Trail Making Test‐B and Category Fluency.

“Improvements in lifestyle risk factors for dementia can lead to improvements in cognition over a short time frame with a population experiencing cognitive decline,” the researchers wrote. “Outcomes from this trial support the conduct of a larger and longer trial.”