Too Much Food Weighs Down Thought

Mild cognitive impairment risk increases with increasing calorie intake

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) It’s fine to have your cake and eat it too, just don’t have it all the time…or you may not remember it!

A study published today suggests that habitual overeating can as much as double your risks for memory loss.

"Eat healthy proteins, whole grains, and a variety of fresh produce."

Yonas E. Geda, M.D., is a member of the American Academy of Neurology and works with the Mayo Clinic. Acting as corresponding author on the study, Dr. Geda explains what happened in his recent investigation:

"We observed a dose-response pattern which simply means the higher the amount of calories consumed each day, the higher the risk of mild cognitive impairment .”

1,233 people between 70 and 89 years of age participated in the study. Although none of the patients had dementia, 163 exhibited mild cognitive impairment (MCI). Researchers gathered each patient’s self-reported daily caloric intake and distributed them into three groups based on the results.

Each day, one-third of the participants ate around 600-1,526 calories, one-third ate 1,527-2,143, and one-third ate 2,143-6,000 calories. The top consumers in from that final group demonstrated twice the risk for developing MCI than those in the first group eating the smallest amount.

These results did not change when the researchers adjusted for diseases known to affect MCI, such as diabetes, stroke, and education level.

Harvard’s School of Public Health recommends people “use a Healthy Eating Plate and Healthy Eating Pyramid that are based on the latest and best science,” combining hearty portions of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and healthy proteins like beans, nuts, fish, and poultry.

For produce, Harvard Health favors variety but not of the fried origin—they recommend “more veggies” and “fruits of all colors” but also stress “potatoes and French fries don’t count.”

It’s more important to eat whole grains like brown rice and whole grain bread and pastas while reducing white rice and flours. Finally, drink plenty of water and avoid sugary drinks. While coffee and tea are fine, it’s suggested to limit milk and dairy to 1-2 servings a day and use whole food sweeteners like agave nectar.

Dr. Geda believes a simple dietary transition is in order: "Cutting calories and eating foods that make up a healthy diet may be a simpler way to prevent memory loss as we age."

This study will be presented at the end of April during the American Academy of Neurology's 64th Annual Meeting, hosted in New Orleans, and is published through the AAN website.

The National Institute of Health funded the research along with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Robert H. and Clarice Smith and Abigail van Buren Alzheimer's Disease Research Program. No conflicts were reported.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
February 11, 2012
Last Updated:
February 13, 2012