Following healthy habits later in life can improve cognition, study finds

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Exercising and following a healthy diet can have long-term health benefits for consumers

Maintaining healthy habits is important for older adults’ physical and mental well-being. Now, a new study explored the cognitive benefits associated with older consumers sticking to a healthy diet and exercise routine.

According to the researchers, consumers over the age of 80 can help prevent cognitive impairment if they maintain healthy lifestyles. This was also true for consumers with the APOE ε4 gene, which is commonly linked with Alzheimer’s. 

“In this study, we observed that healthier lifestyle was associated with better cognitive function among the oldest old regardless of APOE genotype,” the authors wrote. “Our findings may inform the cognitive outlook for those oldest old with high genetic risk of cognitive impairment.” 

Staying healthy has cognitive benefits

For the study, the researchers analyzed data from over 6,100 participants enrolled in the Chinese Longitudinal Healthy Longevity Survey aged 80 or older. The team evaluated the participants’ lifestyles, including what their typical diet and exercise routine looked like and whether or not they smoked. They also assessed the group’s long-term cognitive function and tested for the APOE ε4 gene. 

The researchers learned that following a healthy lifestyle is the key to maintaining cognitive function into older age. While the APOE ε4 gene made participants nearly 20% more likely to experience problems with cognitive function than other variations of the gene, the team believes that sticking to a healthy lifestyle can make significant differences in older consumers’ brain health. 

Having a moderately healthy lifestyle lowered the risk of cognitive impairment by nearly 30%, while participants with the healthiest lifestyles were 55% less likely to struggle with cognitive impairment. 

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