Seniors can keep mentally fit by reducing caloric intake: study

As women age, they may benefit from higher amounts of protein, a prelimiary study suggests

If you want to grow old gracefully and keep all your wits about you, a new study suggests skipping the second helpings.

In a study to be presented at the 64th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Neurology in April, US researchers say they found a correlation between high caloric intake and mild cognitive impairment in people over the age of 70.

Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is defined as the stage between normal memory loss that comes with aging and early Alzheimer's disease.

For the study, 1,230 seniors aged 70 to 89 were asked to report their daily caloric intake in a food questionnaire which divided respondents into three groups: those who consumed between 600 to 1,526 calories a day; another third who ate 1,526 and 2,143 calories daily; and the final group who ate between 2,143 calories and 6,000 calories a day.

After analyzing responses and group profiles, the researchers found the odds of having mild cognitive impairment more than doubled for the group that consumed the most calories, compared to the group that consumed the lowest amount of calories. No differences were observed in the middle group.

"Cutting calories and eating foods that make up a healthy diet may be a simpler way to prevent memory loss as we age," said Dr. Yonas Geda, study co-author with the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Arizona and member of the American Academy of Neurology.

Other studies have also found that too much salt, too little exercise, and smoking can accelerate cognitive decline, while a full calendar and busy social life can help with mental health in older people.