High-Carb Diet in Old Age Linked to Mental Decline10/19/12
FRIDAY, Oct. 19 (HealthDay News) -- Seniors who consume lots of
carbohydrates and sugar are at increased risk for mild cognitive
impairment, according to a new study.
Mild cognitive impairment -- which includes problems with
memory, language, thinking and judgment -- may be an early sign of
The study included 940 people, aged 70 to 89, who had no
cognitive problems at the start of the trial and who provided
information about their eating habits. Within four years, 200 of
the participants were beginning to show mild cognitive impairment,
the researchers from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., said.
Those who reported the highest carbohydrate intake were 1.9
times more likely to develop mild cognitive impairment than those
with the lowest carbohydrate intake. Those with the highest sugar
intake were 1.5 times more likely to develop mild cognitive
impairment than those with the lowest intake.
Those whose diets had the highest levels of fat and protein were
42 percent and 21 percent less likely, respectively, to develop
mild cognitive impairment than those with the lowest intake of fat
Overall, when total fat and protein consumption was considered,
the risk of developing mild cognitive impairment was 3.6 times
greater for people with the highest carbohydrate intake, according
to the study, published in the
Journal of Alzheimer's Diseaseand funded by the U.S.
National Institute on Aging.
"A high carbohydrate intake could be bad for you because carbohydrates impact your glucose and insulin metabolism," study author and epidemiologist Rosebud Roberts said in a Mayo news release.
"Sugar fuels the brain -- so moderate intake is good. However, high levels of sugar may actually prevent the brain from using the sugar -- similar to what we see with type 2 diabetes," said Roberts.
She noted the findings highlight the importance of a
"We think it's important that you eat a healthy balance of protein, carbohydrates and fat, because each of these nutrients has an important role in the body," Roberts said.
While the researchers found an association between sugar-laden,
high-carb diets and mental decline, they did not establish a
The U.S. National Institute on Aging has more about
mild cognitive impairment.
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