An unhealthy lifestyle is a major contributing factor for cognitive decline, which in turn is a risk factor for the development of several diseases, including dementia and Alzheimer’s. Researchers from India and the US suggest that intensive lifestyle changes, such as eating and exercising more healthily, could make the difference.
By Mordhwaj S. Parihar
With global increases in life expectancy, the prevalence of lifestyle diseases, such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, neurological diseases and cancers, is also increasing. The global burden of these diseases is closely linked to unhealthy lifestyle factors, such as smoking, heavy alcohol consumption, physical inactivity, overeating, and the consumption of junk foods. In a recent paper, published in the Journal of Basic and Clinical Physiology and Pharmacology, a group of researchers draw the attention of the scientific community towards lifestyle factors that have a profound impact on physical and mental health.
Cognition refers to the mental process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience and the senses. Impairments in this process can severely impact an individual’s quality of life. Mild to severe cognitive impairments are major risk factors for the development of neurological diseases, such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Cognitive difficulties in patients with diabetes
In their paper, the authors discuss the impact of lifestyle factors on cognitive decline observed in patients with diabetes mellitus. The study reviews various interventions, including increased physical exercise, calorie restricted diets and the consumption of healthy fruits and vegetables, and their effectiveness in improving cognitive impairments. The authors report beneficial effects of dietary supplementation with bioactive compounds, such as omega fatty acids and flavonoids, which are found abundantly in fruits, vegetables, cocoa and certain beverages.
The authors also stress the importance of rapid and accurate diagnosis of the early symptoms of cognitive decline, so that treatment can begin at the earliest sign of disease. Their recommendations for the prevention of cognitive impairments in diabetic patients include; being socially, mentally and physically active, eating a nutritionally balanced diet composed of whole grains, fruits and vegetables, drinking low to moderate amounts of alcohol, and cultivating good sleeping habits. The authors further suggest that effective motivational interventions designed to encourage awareness and the adoption of healthy lifestyles among at-risk groups should be developed and published widely.
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