We all have at least one thing in common in this time of COVID Quarantine – we are making more of our own meals at home. The list probably goes on, but I think of this as an opportunity for hitting our dietary reset buttons. In fact, it is an opportunity each day to have a more thoughtful menu…think of it as New Year’s Resolution meets Ground Hog Day. At the gym where I worked out (they are closed now) there always was a first of the year surge in the volume of people crowding the workout spaces and locker rooms. But inevitably there also was a later drop off around February one where people got back to all the other life distractions, or comfort foots or just bad habits.
I came across a number of research pieces this past week that show that good food choices can statistically reduce our risk of cognitive decline. Why not use the present time to shop and prepare the foods that will give us a truly different quality of life now and as we emerge from the quarantine. The “recipe” is really pretty simple; it’s the basic Mediterranean Diet.
In two trials that actually were focused on preserving eye function called Age-Related Eye Disease Study (there were two: AREDS and AREDS2), researchers found that diet was related to cognitive decline. They measured the intake of fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, red meat, fish, fatty acids and alcohol. AREDS tested cognitive function at five years, and AREDS2 tested at 2, 5, and 10 years later. Overall, the higher the adherence to a Mediterranean diet, the lower the risk of cognitive decline. The statistical significance was impressive with this difference being attributed to chance alone being about one in ten thousand. When the researchers looked into the details the strongest predictor of healthy cognition was fish intake. Check them out here.
It is important to note that we are talking about the risk of cognitive decline, not the rate of decline. The rates of cognitive decline were fairly similar across all dietary groups. As with all studies, the scientists are looking more closely into the results and also into further tests to see that the results can be replicated. While they are doing that, however, we still have some quarantine time left to change our habits a bit.
We at CCM want you all to remain safe and follow the rules so that you all will get through this health crisis. And if you follow as many of these guidelines as you can fit into your day, you will be better coming out of this pandemic than you were going into it. Be safe and be healthier.
Charlotte Bishop is an Aging Life Care Advisor, Geriatric Care Manager and founder of Creative Care Management, certified professionals who are geriatric advocates, resources, counselors and friends to older adults and their families in metropolitan Chicago. She also is the co-author of How Do I Know You? A Caregiver’s Lifesaver for Dealing with Dementia.