Healthy Lifestyle and Cognition: Interaction between Diet and Physical Activity

Abstract

Purpose of Review

This review discusses current research on the impact of specific dietary patterns and exercise, both individually and combined, on cognitive function in older adults.

Recent Findings

Observational evidence generally supports a relationship between diet adherence and positive cognitive outcomes related to memory, executive function, and risk for cognitive impairment; however, randomized controlled trials (RCTs) are limited. Exercise research is more extensive, showing improvements in cognitive performance after exercise interventions regardless of baseline cognitive status and noting lower incidences of cognitive impairment in people who engage in regular physical activity.

Summary

Evidence supports adherence to specific dietary patterns and a combination of aerobic and resistance exercise as an effective approach to mitigate age-associated cognitive decline. Further research on older adults at various stages of cognitive decline, as well as longer-term RCTs, will help determine the best clinical markers of early cognitive dysfunction, and the effectiveness of early lifestyle intervention on cognitive function.

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Funding

This review was supported by funds from Career Development Awards (IK2 RX-001788-01) from the United States (US) Department of Veterans Affairs Rehabilitation R&D (Rehab RD) Service and the San Antonio and Baltimore VA GRECCs.

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Correspondence to Monica C. Serra.

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Serra, M.C., Dondero, K.R., Larkins, D. et al. Healthy Lifestyle and Cognition: Interaction between Diet and Physical Activity. Curr Nutr Rep 9, 64–74 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13668-020-00306-4

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Keywords

  • Dietary patterns
  • Physical activity
  • Cognitive impairment