Overeating May Double Risk of Memory Loss
It is well documented that the human body is designed to manage a certain amount of external stress. It seems that moderate levels of stress applied with some level of consistency are handled very well, whereas high levels of stress create an environment of consequential neuro-endocrine and immune responses. Research related to telomere (RNA) erosion and subsequent premature aging links intense exercise, chronic stress, and lack of recovery. Interestingly, there is also a connection with the stress energy metabolism plays as well. Research has indicated that the number of calories one consumes is linked to lifespan and those who consume conservative amounts of food often enjoy a longer life. To add to the notion that less is better, new research from the American Academy of Neurology suggests that consuming more than 2,100 calories per day may double the risk of memory loss, or mild cognitive impairment (MCI) in later age. MCI is the stage between normal memory loss that comes with aging and early Alzheimer's disease. The study is slated will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology's 64th Annual Meeting in New Orleans April 21-28, 2012.
"We observed a dose-response pattern which simply means: the higher the amount of calories consumed each day, the higher the risk of MCI," said study author Yonas E. Geda, MD, MSc, with the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Arizona and a member of the American Academy of Neurology. This likely explains, at least part of, the probable link between the increase risk seen with Alzheimer’s disease and obesity. In the study 1,233 people free of dementia, between the ages of 70 and 89, were evaluated for MCI. Of the total sample 13% (163) had MCI. Participants were divided into three equal groups based on their daily caloric consumption. Each person completed a food questionnaire requiring them to report the amount of calories they consumed from food or drink per day. One-third of the participants consumed between 600 and 1,526 calories per day, one-third between 1,526 and 2,143 and one-third consumed between 2,143 and 6,000 calories per day. Interestingly, the odds of having MCI more than doubled for those in the highest calorie-consuming group compared to those in the lowest calorie-consuming group. The results were the same after adjusting for history of stroke, diabetes, amount of education, and other factors that can affect risk of memory loss. There was no significant difference in risk for the middle group.
According to Geda "Cutting calories and eating foods that make up a healthy diet may be a simpler way to prevent memory loss as we age." While more research is necessary there seems to be an interesting trend in the amount of stress the body contends with on a daily and longevity. While moderation has been preached since Hippocrates, the concept seems to be more relevant than ever in today’s society. While lower caloric intake promotes smaller size, another common trait in the very old, the reduced stress of proper weight may also prevent many of the other common Western culture disorders.