The health of our brain in a few years is being built up now, with our lifestyle and diet choices, especially as regards the intake of fruit and vegetables, which should be high and varied. And if you say you are too young to think about this you are wrong. In fact, high but neglected values of cholesterol, triglycerides and glycaemia already at age 35 can increase the risk of neurodegeneration in the years to come. This emerges from two very recent scientific researches. The first research was published in The British Journal of Nutrition by a team of Chinese scholars (Sheng et al, BJN, March 2022), the second appeared in the Alzheimer's and Dementia journal thanks to the work of a group from the Boston University School of Medicine (Zhang et al, Alzheimer's & Dementia, 2022).
More fruit and vegetables to keep cognitive impairment at bay
The first research is very solid since it is based on health and nutrition data of more than 16300 volunteers, followed for twenty years. In particular, the scientists developed a study in which eating habits, focusing in particular on the intake of fruit and vegetables, and cognitive function over the years are compared. What emerged is that those who consume more fruit and vegetables show a lower risk of developing cognitive impairment, which confirms the results of previous studies. But the research we are talking about today has gone further and has allowed us to bring out another very important data. The variety in fruit and vegetable consumption is just as important as the quantity. So, for brain health for years to come, it is not only important to ensure a regular daily intake of fruits and vegetables, but also to vary the types of fruits and vegetables that you consume. In fact, precisely those who guaranteed a greater intake of fruit and vegetables and at the same time a higher variety of these foods presented a lower risk than all the other volunteers of developing cognitive impairment. Among the most protective varieties of fruit and vegetables, the study reports mushrooms, light green vegetables such as celery, asparagus, green beans, basil, cabbage, artichokes, lettuce and cucumbers, and fruits with a low or moderate glycemic index, such as pineapple, mango, papaya, kiwi, grapes, apricots, peaches, cherries, citrus fruits, apples and berries.
Already at 35 you can work to reduce the risk of Alzheimer's
The second research was based on the data of almost 5,000 volunteers participating in the Framingham Heart Study, an important study started in 1948 and which every four years carries out tests and checks on participants, following them for the entire duration of their life. From the analysis of these data, it emerged that the risk of developing Alzheimer's literally begins to build from an early age. In fact, having high values of HDL good cholesterol at the age of 35 reduces the risk of developing Alzheimer's with aging. Not only that, already at 35 it is necessary to keep triglycerides and blood sugar under control because if they are high they can contribute to increasing the risk of neurodegeneration with advancing age.
In short, health is built and how we will be in a few years depends on how we live now. A healthy lifestyle, with moderate physical activity and a diet that includes a large variety of fruits and vegetables are among the allies we now have to fight neurodegeneration in the years to come.