A new study shows that those over 70 eating more than 2,100 calories per day nearly double their risk of memory loss, or mild cognitive impairment (MCI).
The study is scheduled to be presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s Annual Meeting in April 2012. Even after adjusting for history of stroke, diabetes, amount of education, and other factors that can increase the likelihood of memory loss, the risk for the highest calorie group was nearly double that of the lower calorie group.
Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is considered an intermediate stage between the normal cognitive decline that comes with aging and pronounced dementia. Just like the rest of the body, the brain changes with age. And, as we age, it is normal to have a certain amount of increasing forgetfulness. However, a consistent decrease in mental performance (forgetting things more and more often including a familiar environment) is beyond the normal aging process. While many individuals diagnosed with MCI remain stable, a significant percentage progress to Alzheimer’s disease.
The one simple step you can take to prevent memory loss is… Don’t overeat! To cut down on servings, try consuming small snacks throughout the day. Eat an apple or a handful of almonds between meals to prevent gorging at meal times. During meals, only eat enough to satisfy your hunger and don’t be gluttonous with your portion sizes. When dining out, ask for a to-go box at the beginning of your meal since restaurants often serve larger portions. Put ¼ to ½ of your entrée in the box before you begin eating. This way, you are less likely to feel compelled to finish your entire plate. Or, you can share your entrée with a friend to prevent overindulging. Also, try chewing your food slowly and savor eat bite. On average, there is a 20 minute delay between the time that your stomach is full and your brain recognizes it.
What else can you do to protect your brain? Reduce the risk factors associated with MCI and Alzheimer’s disease:
- If you smoke, stop.
- Keep your blood sugar levels in check. Avoid foods that cause blood sugar fluctuations such as sweets, sodas, breads, cereals, and potatoes.
- Eat heart healthy foods to prevent high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Eat a variety of fresh fruits, vegetables, wild fish and use spices such as garlic and parsley.
- Exercise several times per week. Simply taking a 20 minute walk several times per week or performing low-impact aerobics or swimming can make a huge difference.
- Participate in mental and socially-stimulating activities. Do crosswords puzzles, play games with friends, read books, attend social events or get involved in charity work. Social engagement and intellectual stimulation help preserve mental function.
- Take omega-3’s in the form of a fish oil supplement to support brain health. Research proves taking a fish oil daily boosts memory and prevents mental regression.
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 Molecular Neurobiology. 2010 Jun;41(2-3):367-74.
 Rupert Shepherd B.Sc. “Overeating Linked To Memory Loss.” Medical News Today. MediLexicon, Intl., 14 Feb. 2012. Web.