Healthy habits linked to reduced memory loss

Healthy habits linked to reduced memory loss

People with healthy habits are at a reduced risk of memory complaints, according to a new study carried out by UCLA researchers.

The researchers analyzed the link between healthy behaviors and memory throughout adult life.

A national poll, which included a total of 18,552 people, was conducted by UCLA researchers and the Gallup organization. The participants were asked questions about their memory as well as their lifestyle.

The five questions asked were:

  • Do you smoke?
  • Did you eat healthy all day yesterday?
  • In the last seven days, on how many days did you have five or more servings of vegetables and fruits?
  • In the last seven days, on how many days did you exercise for 30 minutes or more?
  • Do you have any problems with your memory?
Healthy eating, not smoking, and regular exercise were linked to better self-perceived memory abilities.

Younger adults between the age of 18 to 39 were less likely to report engaging in healthy behaviors compared to older adults above the age of 60.

According to the study's first author, Dr. Gary Small, director of the UCLA Longevity Center and a professor of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA who holds the Parlow Solomon Chair on Aging:

"These findings reinforce the importance of educating young and middle-aged individuals to take greater responsibility for their health - including memory - by practicing positive lifestyle behaviors earlier in life."

The findings of the study, which were published in the journal International Psychogeriatrics, could have a significant impact on future research of memory complaints.

The researchers carried out telephone interviews with the participants, they even carried out interviews in Spanish to fully "capture a representative 90 percent of the U.S. population".

Senior author Fernando Torres-Gil, a professor at UCLA's Luskin School of Public Affairs and associate director of the UCLA Longevity Center, said that the people who reported the healthiest lifestyle behaviors were the ones least likely to report problems with their memory.

People who only engaged in one healthy behavior were 21 percent less likely to report memory problems, those who engaged in two were 45 percent less likely, and adults who engaged in more than three positive behaviors were far less likely to report memory problems.

Seventy percent of the older adults engaged in at least one healthy behavior compared to only 61 percent of middle-aged adults and 58 percent of younger adults.

Young adults smoke more and eat less healthy

The survey also revealed that young adults were more likely to engage in bad, unhealthy habits.

Smoking may impair one's memory

An overwhelming 25 percent of middle-aged adults smoked compared to only 12 percent of those over the age of 60. Young adults were also much less likely to report eating a healthy diet including fruits and vegetables.

Smoking has been shown to have a big impact on cognitive function, compared to non-smokers, researchers found that smokers scored lower in global cognitive function, speed, and flexibility at middle age.

It is possible that older adults generally engage in more healthy behaviors because they are more likely to listen to the advice their doctors give them and because those who engage in bad behaviors don't live as long.

Memory issues were reported from 26 percent of the older adults and 22 percent of the middle-aged adults. The researchers said these figures were expected among adults of these age groups, however, they said they were surprised that 14 percent of young adults reported memory problems too.

Eating plenty of fruit and vegetables is an example of a healthy habit

Small said: "Memory issues were to be expected in the middle-aged and older groups, but not in younger people. A better understanding and recognition of mild memory symptoms earlier in life may have the potential to help all ages."

The memory issues that young adults experience may be different to the problems that older people have. Small said that technology such as the internet and texting could have an influence on a young adults attention span and ability to focus.

He concluded that further research is necessary to further understand the differences in memory-complaints.

The survey highlights the importance of living a healthy lifestyle to prevent cognitive decline.

Diets influence memory and cognitive function

Bad lifestyle habits have proved to play a significant role in causing memory loss. A previous study published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, found a link between memory loss to a diet high in saturated fat and cholesterol.

Similarly, good lifestyle habits have been found to have an impact on memory. People who eat a Mediterranean diet - a healthy diet rich in fish, chicken and salad dressing - are more likely to have improved memory and cognitive function, according to research published in the journal Neurology.

How to Improve Your Memory | Avoid Memory Loss By Skipping These Foods. (Video Medical And Professional 2020).

Section Issues On Medicine: Psychiatry