Mediterranean Diet Metabolites May Help Prevent Cognitive Decline

Mediterranean Diet Metabolites May Help Prevent Cognitive Decline

Share on Pinterest
Metabolites from a healthier diet may help protect brain health, according to new research. Ivan Gener/Stocksy
  • Studies show that levels of certain blood metabolites, which are intermediate or end products of human metabolism, are associated with cognitive function.
  • Blood metabolite levels are influenced by health status, genetics, and environmental factors, and may differ among different ethnic or racial groups.
  • A recent study characterized the blood metabolites associated with cognitive function among various ethnic/racial groups.
  • The study results suggest that dietary habits could potentially influence levels of these metabolites and subsequently cognitive performance, highlighting the importance of a healthy diet.

People from minority ethnic or racial groups are often underrepresented in research, which hampers the understanding of risk factors and the effectiveness of treatments for diseases in these minority groups.

A recent study published in the journal Alzheimer’s and dementia found that levels of six plasma metabolites were associated with lower cognitive function in all racial/ethnic groups, and that levels of most of these blood metabolites were associated with adherence to a Mediterranean diet.

Talk to Medical News TodayThe study’s corresponding author, Dr. Tamar Sofer, a professor at Harvard University’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital, said:

“We have identified a few metabolites (small molecules) in the blood whose levels are correlated with cognitive function, and they are all linked to diet. Although there are clinical trials showing that diet can influence cognitive function, identifying specific metabolites can help identify [a] specific mechanism, specific components of [a] diet more important than others, and biomarkers to measure [the] successful dietary changes.

However, Dr Sofer added that “there is still work to be done to get these milestones to fruition, but it’s a good start, especially because the results were held up in a few different studies, so the results are very reliable”.

Advances in technology have made it possible to profile hundreds of metabolites at once and identify metabolites associated with a disease state. For example, studies have shown that plasma metabolite levels are associated with cognitive function and dementia.

Characterization of metabolites associated with cognitive function can help researchers to understand the mechanisms underlying the development of dementia. Additionally, blood metabolites can be easily measured and could serve as biomarkers for cognitive function.

A previous study of Puerto Rican seniors enrolled in the program Boston Puerto Rican Health Study (BPRHS) showed that levels of 13 blood metabolites were associated with overall cognitive function, which is a composite measure of several cognitive abilities.

Metabolite levels are influenced by the interplay between genetics, health status, and environmental factors, including diet, other lifestyle factors, and socioeconomic factors, which may differ between and even within ethnic/racial groups.

Given the influence of such a multitude of factors on blood metabolite levels, the study authors examined whether the BPRHS results could be replicated in a different sample of individuals of Puerto Rican descent in the United States. United. The researchers also investigated whether these findings could be generalized to the entire Hispanic/Latino population and other ethnic groups.

Several metabolites identified by the BPRHS were found to be influenced by dietary habits. Thus, modifying one’s eating habits could potentially help preserve cognitive health.

Therefore, the study authors also examined the causal role of blood metabolites and dietary habits in influencing cognitive function.

To assess the generalizability of the BPRHS results to the entire Hispanic and Latino population in the United States, the researchers used data from 2,222 adults enrolled in the Community Health Study/Latino Study (HCHS/SOL). HCHS/SOL is a longitudinal cohort study examining the health of individuals of different Hispanic/Latino origins, including those of Cuban, Dominican, Puerto Rican, Mexican, Central American and South American origin.

Using blood samples from the HCHS/SOL cohort, the researchers were able to estimate the level of 11 of the 13 metabolites assessed by the BPRHS.

They found that the direction of effects of blood metabolites on cognitive function in HCHS/SOL Puerto Rican and all HCHS/SOL participants was similar to that seen in BPRHS.

Additionally, there was a significant correlation between the levels of certain metabolites with overall cognitive function in HCHS/SOL Puerto Ricans and all HCHS/SOL participants.

Among these metabolites, higher levels of beta-cryptoxanthin and lower levels of gamma-glucuronide-CEHC were associated with cognitive function in Puerto Rican HCHS/SOL and in all HCHS/SOL participants.

To examine the association between blood metabolites and cognitive function in other racial/ethnic groups, the researchers used data from 1,365 European Americans and 478 African Americans enrolled in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study. The researchers then conducted a meta-analysis to assess the association between blood metabolite levels and cognitive function using data from the BPRHS, HCHS/SOL and ARIC studies.

The meta-analysis showed that six blood metabolites were associated with lower cognitive function in all ethnic/racial groups. Four of the six metabolites associated with global cognitive function were sugars, including glucose, ribitol, mannose, and mannitol/sorbitol.

Since the previous analysis only showed a correlation between the metabolites and cognitive function, the researchers performed an additional analysis to determine if any of the blood metabolites had a causal effect on cognitive function.

Of the six metabolites, analysis revealed a potential causal effect of ribitol alone on cognitive function.

The researchers also assessed the association between dietary habits, including adherence to a Mediterranean diet, and food group consumption (i.e., consumption of legumes, fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, etc.) and levels of blood metabolites.

They found that adherence to a Mediterranean diet or its component food groups was correlated with several blood metabolites assessed in the study.

Notably, the strongest association was observed between beta-cryptoxanthin and fruit consumption among HCHS/SOL Puerto Ricans and all HCHS/SOL participants.

Beta-cryptoxanthin is a carotenoid with antioxidant properties found in fruits and vegetables, and beta-cryptoxanthin levels are associated with a lower risk of insulin resistance and liver dysfunction.

The researchers then examined whether eating specific food groups had a causal effect on cognitive performance.

Although food groups played a causal role in cognitive performance, cognitive function had a much stronger causal effect on the consumption of specific food groups. Cognitive function is associated with socioeconomic status, which may influence the effects of cognitive status on eating habits.

In sum, these results suggest that dietary habits could potentially influence cognitive performance by modulating blood metabolite levels.

The authors acknowledge that the study had some limitations. They noted that the BRPHS, HCHS/SOL and ARIC studies used different methods to assess cognitive function and that the causal effects of metabolites on cognitive function should be interpreted with caution.

Dr Perminder Sachdev, professor of neuropsychiatry at the University of New South Wales, who was not involved in this study, said DTM:

“There are several challenges in interpreting these results in relation to the role of specific nutritional groups and brain health. This is a cross-sectional study from which causal relationships cannot be established. Not only can nutrition affect brain health, but poor cognitive function can also influence nutrition, suggesting a two-way relationship.

In addition, Dr. Sachdev also noted that “blood metabolites have multiple determinants, diet being just one of them. Genetic factors, health-related comorbidities, and lifestyle are all important. A direct attribution to diet is therefore difficult.

“[T]This study is a step in the right direction in examining the role of diet and the body’s metabolism in brain health. It provides suggestive evidence that adhering to a good diet such as the Mediterranean-style diet can benefit brain health across a wide age range.
—Dr. Perminder Satchdev

Dr Sachdev added that much more work was needed.

“We need to better understand the plasma metabolome to know what determines their blood levels before we can begin to interpret such studies. We need longitudinal studies with multiple measures in large samples, followed by intervention studies, so that the causal relationship can be established,” he said.

#Mediterranean #Diet #Metabolites #Prevent #Cognitive #Decline

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.