(Health Secrets) Eating a high calorie diet can increase your risk of developing memory loss and dementia in old age according to research from the Mayo Clinic. The results of the study, which were presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology, support the overall view that a healthy diet and lifestyle can be major factors in reducing the onset of dementia.
What Did the Study Show?
The study looked at the incidence of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and whether it was associated with the amount of calories eaten on a daily basis. Mild cognitive impairment has become an interesting condition for medical researchers as it is an early sign of dementia and can be used to predict who is likely to develop dementia or Alzheimer’s.
The Mayo Clinic study looked at 1,233 participants between the ages of 70 and 89. None of the participants had been diagnosed with dementia, but 163 of them had been diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment. The participants were divided into three groups according to the number of calories they typically consumed each day.
The groups were:
*The low group (600-1526 calories)
*The medium group (1526-2143 calories)
*The high group (2143-6000 calories)
The results showed that the participants in the high group, who ate the most calories each day, were more than twice as likely to have mild cognitive impairment as the participants in the other two groups. Although this does not prove that high calorie intake causes dementia or MCI, it does suggest a link between diet and the risk of these conditions.
Dr Yonas Geda, one of the researchers in the study, stated that “We observed a dose-response pattern which simply means; the higher the amount of calories consumed each day, the higher the risk of MCI. Cutting calories and eating foods that make up a healthy diet may be a simpler way to prevent memory loss as we age.”
Reducing Our Calorie Intake
Calories are a measure of the amount of energy contained within the food we eat. Our bodies burn the energy in food during physical and mental activity, and also during normal bodily functions such as cell repair. Ideally we need to balance the amount of calories we consume with the amount of calories we burn to maintain a steady state. If we consume more calories than we burn these will usually be stored as fat. If we want to lose weight we need to burn more calories than we consume.
A crash diet is not usually the best way to reduce the number of calories we eat, and we shouldn’t skip meals or drastically reduce our food intake. Often the best way to reduce calorie intake is to make small changes in the way we eat that can be sustained in the long term. Here are a few ideas for foods that can be swapped to reduce the number of calories we consume each day.
- Instead of sugary breakfast cereals, try a breakfast of fruit followed by a handful of sprouted nuts or seeds
- Instead of fatty meats try eating more fish
- Instead of cream or cheese try tomato or vegetable based sauces
- Instead of sugary sodas try a refreshing glass of water, tea or diluted fresh fruit juice
- Instead of bread, rice or pasta try buckwheat or quinoa
- Instead of pie, cake or cookies have a piece of dark chocolate
- Instead of sugar try Stevia as your sweetener