New research suggests that older adults who maintain a steady weight as they age are less likely to experience cognitive decline.
That means you don’t necessarily have to lose weight to stay sharp with age. Instead, try to stay around where you are. Previous research has shown that losing some weight, when done properly, is also associated with cognitive longevity.
Researchers found that weight stability may be most important in older age and that cognitive decline was linked with changes in body mass index, or BMI. BMI is an estimate of body fat based on height and weight.
The study makes some sense. Older adults who experience weight changes usually do so for an unhealthy reason. Unexplained weight loss can signify illness or poor nourishment, both of which may impact cognition.
Quick weight gain can also indicate problems.
Some studies have that cognitive impairment is more likely with a high BMI. Weight loss has been associated with dementia.
In older populations, maintaining bone, fat, and muscle may indicate better health from head to toe.
Researchers used the National Alzheimer’s Coordinating Center data and looked at about 16,000 adults. Participants were at least 60, and none had been diagnosed with dementia at the outset.
Participants were given cognitive tests and had their BMI measured for five years. Over that time, all showed some degree of mental decline, but the decline was 60 percent faster in the group with fluctuating BMIs compared to those who kept a stable weight.
If you do want to lose weight, do so in a way that benefits your brain. This includes eating a nutritious diet, getting adequate calories, and including exercise in your weekly routine.
Avoid yoyo dieting and trying to get fast results. This method can harm metabolism and may put your brain at risk, too.