Eating less may help elders improve memory

Eating less may help older people improve their memory and prevent or delay the onset of Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia, according to a German study published on Monday.

Eating less may help elders improve memory

The findings suggest that simple lifestyle changes could help treat dementia and confirm benefits previously shown in animals, said Agnes Floel, a neurologist at the University of Munster in Germany, who led the study.

"This is the first study that has shown that caloric restriction might be beneficial for memory function in elderly humans," Floel said in a telephone interview.

An estimated 24 million people worldwide have the memory loss, problems with orientation and other symptoms that signal Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia.

Researchers believe the number of people with dementia may quadruple by 2040, straining national health services and raising the need for new treatments.

Floel and her team divided 50 people with an average age of 60 into three groups. One group worked with a dietitian to cut their daily calories by about 30 percent while another had no eating restrictions.

The third group ate more food containing unsaturated fatty acids found in olive oil and fish, but this appeared to make no difference in boosting memory, Floel said.

But the men and women in the group told to eat less showed a 10 to 20 percent improvement in a memory test given three months after they began their diet, the researchers said.

"Our study may help to generate novel prevention strategies to maintain cognitive functions into old age," the researchers wrote in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The team is now conducting a larger trial using brain imaging scans to better understand the mechanisms by which eating less may improve mental function, Floel said.

One possibility is that decreased levels of insulin and inflammation may boost brain cells and improve memory, she added in a telephone interview.

"We think that, similar to what has been found in animal studies, the changes of insulin levels and inflammation are good for neurons and bring about the improvement," Floel said.


Reuters

Last Mod: 27 Ocak 2009, 12:13
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