In a study from Zhejiang University, scientists found that balanced meal timing may benefit cognitive health in middle-aged and older people.
Globally, there are approximately 55 million people who suffer from dementia, and the incidence of the disease has steadily increased.
The number of affected is expected to triple by 2050, particularly in low- and middle-income countries.
Dementia affects the quality of life of individuals and adds significant economic burdens to families and society.
Previous studies have shown a link between the temporal distribution of energy intake during a day (TPEI) and the risk of various chronic diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure.
Studies in animal models have shown that the disruption in meal timing can cause alterations in clock rhythms in the hippocampus, thereby affecting cognitive function.
According to a short-term intervention study of 96 young adults, dividing equal amounts of food into four meals between 9 am and 3 pm could improve cognitive function compared to eating twice between 9 am and 3 pm.
In the new study, researchers examined 3,342 participants who were middle-aged and older adults (mean age 62 years) from nine provinces in China with a baseline age ≥ 55 years.
The team showed that, compared with those with an “evenly-distributed” pattern, the long-term cognitive function scores were much lower in those who had unbalanced TPEIs, especially those with a “breakfast-skipping” pattern.
Thus, maintaining balanced energy intake during a day has potentially positive effects on cognitive health, whereas skipping breakfast may strongly increase the risk of cognitive decline in middle-aged and older adults.
In conclusion, this study highlights the importance of optimal energy intake during a day in cognitive function.
For more information about brain health, please see recent studies about the best foods for brain health, and results showing high blood pressure in midlife may increase brain damage.
The study was conducted by Dr. Changzheng Yuan et al and published in Life Metabolism.
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