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Can Exercise and Diet Help With Mild Cognitive Impairment?

Mild cognitive impairment or MCI is a condition where there is a slight yet noticeable change in your thinking and memory. There are several ways or in fact some kinds of lifestyle changes which might help your with mild cognitive impairment.

Can Exercise and Diet Help With Mild Cognitive Impairment?

Can Exercise and Diet Help With Mild Cognitive Impairment?

Yes! Exercise and diet can help with mild cognitive impairment. For knowing more about this we need to take a look on a study that tells you about how aerobic exercise and a well-balanced or healthy diet help you in treating mild cognitive impairment.

The Study:

There is a randomized small trial that was published online by Neurology on December 19, 2018 that suggests that a combination of exercise and diet might help in case of mild cognitive impairment. Researchers have studied about 160 sedentary elderly adults who suffered from mild cognitive impairment or MCI and also one or more risk factors of cardiovascular disease, such as high cholesterol. The participants in the study were assigned randomly to do certain aerobic exercise and follow a DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet or a heart healthy diet and get weekly heart health education for around 6 months. It was noticed that those individuals who simply exercised several times in a week got a slight bump in thinking skills or the executive function that help us to properly plan and organize. However, there was a great change in those individuals who followed a combination of exercise or did aerobic training thrice in a week and followed the DASH diet. They had an improved planning skills and this skill was equivalent to reversing about 10 years of aging of the brain, as compared with the participants who did not exercise or improve the diet.

In addition, it was found that both exercise as well as a healthy diet increased the level of a protein known as BDNF that is known to support the growth and also survival of the brain cells.(1, 2)

So, it can be concluded from the study that exercise and diet can help with mild cognitive impairment.

Some Exercise Tips Which Help With Mild Cognitive Impairment:

Here we have mentioned some of the exercise tips which help with mild cognitive impairment.

Exercise To Prevent Mild Cognitive Impairment:

One of the first things you need to know is exercise regularly to prevent mild cognitive impairment. In a study it was found that exercise such as walking, weight lifting and tone exercises when continuously done for over 6 months by people, showed that it preserved memory and cognitive function in the participants. However, it was also found that people who lifted weights improved their cognitive functions the most.

Prevent Mild Cognitive Impairment By Exercising Earlier In Life:

You need to exercise earlier in life so as to prevent cognitive impairment. This is another tip of exercising that help with mild cognitive impairment. The earlier you start exercising the greater would be the benefit of cognitive function. However, it is still never too late to begin exercising. If you haven’t exercised early, you can start doing them even in the senior years and that would benefit you well.

Take Strength Training That Helps With Mild Cognitive Impairment:

You need to know that strength training program can help you greatly with mild cognitive impairment. The most common ways for seniors to do strength training include the pulling and pushing exercises with resistance bands or with dumb bells. Your strength increases as you remain consistent with the weight training program. It is best to go for the strength training under a fitness guide.

It is also important for you to note that you need to strength-train all the major groups of muscles for at least 30 minutes twice in a week. When you have the off days or when not doing strength training exercises, you can go for swimming, walking, or be engaged in some other form of aerobic exercises, which is also known to be highly beneficial for preserving the memory, brain health and also in preventing or slowing down the mild cognitive impairment and also Alzheimer’s disease.

Do Aerobic Exercises To Prevent Mild Cognitive Impairment:

Aerobic exercises are known to be good for brain health and they must not be neglected so as to lower the risk of memory loss, Alzheimer’s and mild cognitive impairment. So, you need to engage with aerobic exercises that help with mild cognitive impairment.

Make Exercise Interesting And Fun:

Let exercise be quite interesting and a fun part in your life. For doing so, you can make a group or do exercise in a group, maybe in a gym for an increased motivation. There are some exercises which are senior-friendly exercises and they include swimming, pilates, hiking or rowing. You can try these interesting exercises with your group to get the best benefits out of exercising.

Diet That Help With Mild Cognitive Impairment:

There are several studies which have shown that the Mediterranean diet or the MeDi, which primarily emphasizes on taking more of vegetables, fruits, fish, olive oil, nuts and some fat ingredients; and taking less of meat, can prevent the impairment of cognitive functions.(3, 4, 5)

Ye et al conducted an epidemiological survey and Loef and Walach conducted a study that revealed that vitamins, antioxidants, and folic acids found in fruits and vegetables are very much effective in enhancing cognitive as well as the memory function. It was also reported by Loef and Walach that simple sugars present in fruits and a high glycemic index can reduce the hippocampal and the temporal lobe volumes, the regions that are known to supervise olfaction, hearing, and sensory language, and such factors are also known for increasing the risk factors for developing mild cognitive impairment; and thus they must be avoided.

The Mind Diet:

Mind Diet or a neurodegenerative delay diet is a diet that combines the DASH diet and the Mediterranean diet and this mind diet is known to be correlated to neuro-protection and also the prevention of AD.(6)

This MIND diet includes a recommendation on taking 10 food groups which are beneficial for brain health, such as green and leafy vegetables, other kinds of vegetables, berries, nuts, beans, fish, poultry, whole grains, wine, and olive oil. It also emphasizes on the reduction of consuming excess of butter, red meat, margarine, pastries, cheese, fried or fast foods, and sweets.(7)


Now that we are known to the fact that exercise along with diet help with mild cognitive impairment, if you suspect of having MCI then you too can try the above mentioned exercising tips and the healthy diet that might help you in managing the symptoms of mild cognitive impairment. However, it is always recommended to consult an expert medical professional, get yourself properly diagnosed and take the prescribed treatments for your condition.


Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:June 13, 2019

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