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Healthy lifestyle allows for better mental health in older years

People who have a healthy diet, engage in moderate exercise and have a light-to-moderate alcohol consumption are more likely to be mentally healthy in their later years, according to a study published in the journal PLOS Medicine. Their lifestyle makes their brain withstand certain alterations that develop from age or illness, demonstrating that they have higher “cognitive reserve."

Cognitive health is crucial in securing the quality of life of older people. Cognitive health is the growth and safeguarding of the multidimensional cognitive structure that allows older people to have the ability to work independently and ensures recovery from illness.

Differences in physical activity or diet may be linked to differences in mental vigor in later life.

It is speculated that signs of mental fitness in the elderly stems from their earlier experiences, such as continuing their education or having a leadership position in a job, suggesting that they have higher “cognitive reserve.”

Cognitive health is crucial in securing the quality of life of older people. Cognitive health is the growth and safeguarding of the multidimensional cognitive structure that allows older people to have the ability to work independently and ensures recovery from illness. It is speculated that signs of mental fitness in the elderly stems from their earlier experiences, such as continuing their education or having a leadership position in a job, suggesting that they have higher “cognitive reserve.”

Researchers investigated if cognitive reserve clarifies how lifestyle affects mental fitness. Over 2,000 mentally fit people over the age of 65 participated in the study. Participants aged 65 years and over were randomly evaluated from general medicine practice lists between 2011 and 2013 and were divided into two age groups, 65 to 74 years and 75 years and over.

Cognitive function was assessed by the Cambridge Cognitive Examination, which tested a variety of cognitive functions in the elderly, with scores varying from zero to 107. Cognitive reserve was first listed by education and occupational complexity in the study. The cognitive reserve score was calculated by multiplying 1.7 times a participant’s years of education and then multiplying one times the occupational complexity level. These two numbers would then be added together.

Participants were asked about their degrees of physical activity ranging from mild to moderate to vigorous. These include light gardening and light housework to cleaning the car, tennis and jogging. They were then asked how often they engage in such activities, with zero equaling once a year or less, one equaling several times a year, two equaling several times a month, three equaling several times a week and four equaling every day or almost every day.

Participants reported their eating habits next. They wrote down how often they consumed fatty fish, other fish, fresh fruit, green leafy vegetables, vegetables and white and wheat bread. The consumption of these foods was measured on six levels: never, seldom, once a week, two to four times a week or five to six times a week or daily.

Participants’ cognitive and social activities were measured based on seven cognitive tasks—listening to the radio, reading a newspaper, reading a book, playing a game of cards and completing crosswords. Their replies to three questions, “How often do you see any of your relatives to speak to?” “Do you attend meetings of any community or social groups?” and “How often do you see any of your neighbors to have a chat or do something with?” were also measured.

Current and ex-smokers were pinpointed using the questions “Do you smoke?” and “Have you ever smoked?” The amount of alcohol consumption was categorized into four groups: nearly abstinent, infrequent drinkers, frequent light-to-moderate drinkers and regulate light-to-moderate drinkers. Frequent light-to-moderate drinkers consumed alcohol once, twice or four times a week and regular light-to-moderate drinkers consumed alcohol five or six times a week or almost every day.

It was revealed that the four lifestyle components of cognitive and social activity, physical activity, regular light-to-moderate alcohol consumption and healthy diet had correlations with cognitive function. These factors explained about 5 percent of the imbalance in cognitive function. There was no link between smoking and cognitive function.

The results illustrated that cognitive reserve was a vital moderator of the relationship between the four lifestyle factors and cognition.

These results match prior cross-sectional and longitudinal discoveries on cognitive and social activity. It further emphasizes involvement in cognitive, social and physical activity and a healthy diet, since it helps to preserve cognitive health.

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