HealthDay News — A healthy diet, physical activity and brain exercises can help slow mental decline in older people at risk for dementia, a new study suggests.
On the other hand, a high body-mass index (BMI) and poor heart health are significant risk factors for age-related dementia, the researchers said. BMI is an estimate of body fat based on height and weight.
The study included 1,260 people in Finland, aged 60 to 77, who were considered to be at high risk for dementia. They were randomly selected to receive either regular health advice (the control group) or to be part of an intervention group.
Over two years, those in the intervention group met regularly with doctors, nurses and other health professionals who provided advice on healthy eating, strength and heart-healthy exercise, brain training programs and management of metabolic and circulatory risk factors for dementia.
After two years, those in the intervention group scored 25% higher overall on a standard test of mental function than those in the control group, according to the study in The Lancet.
The differences were much greater on some parts of the test. For example, people in the intervention group scored 150% higher in mental processing speed, and 83% higher in executive functioning, which is the ability to organize and regulate thought processes.
While the researchers found a link between a healthy lifestyle and age-related dementia, they didn’t prove cause and effect.
Kivipelto M, et al. A 2 year multidomain intervention of diet, exercise, cognitive training, and vascular risk monitoring versus control to prevent cognitive decline in at-risk elderly people (FINGER): a randomised controlled trial. Lancet. 2015; DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(15)60461-5.