This Diet Benefits Memory & Learning Later In Life, Research Reveals
One demographic in particular has been under-researched when it comes to brain longevity studies: The U.S. Hispanic and Latino population has a genetic predisposition to suboptimal cognitive health outcomes later in life, and yet, members of this community are rarely included in studies on the Mediterranean diet and its long-term cognitive health benefits.
The brain longevity study design.
The study analyzed 6,321 healthy Hispanic or Latino adults from the Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos (HCHS/SOL) and the Study of Latinos–Investigation of Neurocognitive Aging (SOL–INCA), an HCHS/SOL ancillary study.
Researchers analyzed participants' health metrics, cognitive test results, and diet habits during two visits (the first in the HCHS/SOL and the second in the SOL-INCA, seven years later).
Participants included in the new JAMA study had completed a diet assessment during visit one and neurocognitive evaluations during visits one and two to analyze whether adherence to the Mediterranean diet did, in fact, improve and/or maintain cognitive health outcomes over a span of seven years. The average age of participants included in the present study was 56 during the first visit, making them 63 years old, on average, during the second visit.
How nutrition affects cognitive health in Hispanic & Latino adults.
In addition to cognitive health benefits, participants in the moderate and high adherence groups were also found to have:
- A better cardiovascular profile
- A lower body mass index (BMI)
- Better kidney function
Interestingly, the study analysis also showed the influence that acculturation has on diet and long-term cognitive health for Hispanic and Latino Americans.
Individuals in the moderate and high adherence groups were less likely to:
- Be born in the U.S.
- Use English as their preferred language
- Have health insurance
This inverse association between acculturation and adherence to the Mediterranean diet suggest that as Hispanic and Latino people move to and spend more time in the U.S., their dietary habits become less healthy, which can lead to unwanted health outcomes down the road.
Interestingly, these results did not differ between groups when adjustments were made for social determinants of health (e.g., income, education, access to health insurance). Researchers from this JAMA study are currently investigating how socioeconomic factors influence adherence to the Mediterranean diet and cognitive health in depth to draw further conclusions.
This groundbreaking study on cognitive health of the U.S. Hispanic and Latino populations reveals that a culturally tailored Mediterranean diet may help maintain cognitive health outcomes later in life. While one's dietary pattern is a massively influential factor in long-term cognitive function, other focused actions can also be taken to promote brain longevity—such as taking a high-quality nootropic supplement that specifically supports cognitive health, like mbg's brain guard+.*
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Morgan Chamberlain is a supplement editor at mindbodygreen. She graduated from Syracuse University with a Bachelor of Science degree in magazine journalism and a minor in nutrition. Chamberlain believes in taking small steps to improve your well-being—whether that means eating more plant-based foods, checking in with a therapist weekly, or spending quality time with your closest friends. When she isn’t typing away furiously at her keyboard, you can find her cooking in the kitchen, hanging outside, or doing a vinyasa flow.