Cognitive decline, dietary factors and gut-brain interactions.Mech Ageing Dev. 2014 Mar-Apr; 136-137:59-69.MA
Cognitive decline in elderly people often derives from the interaction between aging-related changes and age-related diseases and covers a large spectrum of clinical manifestations, from intact cognition through mild cognitive impairment and dementia. Epidemiological evidence supports the hypothesis that modifiable lifestyle-related factors are associated with cognitive decline, opening new avenues for prevention. Diet in particular has become the object of intense research in relation to cognitive aging and neurodegenerative disease. We reviewed the most recent findings in this rapidly expanding field. Some nutrients, such as vitamins and fatty acids, have been studied longer than others, but strong scientific evidence of an association is lacking even for these compounds. Specific dietary patterns, like the Mediterranean diet, may be more beneficial than a high consumption of single nutrients or specific food items. A strong link between vascular risk factors and dementia has been shown, and the association of diet with several vascular and metabolic diseases is well known. Other plausible mechanisms underlying the relationship between diet and cognitive decline, such as inflammation and oxidative stress, have been established. In addition to the traditional etiological pathways, new hypotheses, such as the role of the intestinal microbiome in cognitive function, have been suggested and warrant further investigation.