Dubbed one of the “worst foods for your brain”, Dr Jennifer Robinson verified that people who eat a lot of fried, processed foods – such as French fries – tend to do worse on tests that measure thinking skills. The likely reason behind this is that fried foods are pro-inflammatory, meaning they promote inflammation in the body. Inflammation can damage blood vessels that supply the brain with blood.
The Alzheimer’s Society stated: “Several aspects of a person’s health and lifestyle are thought to influence their chances of developing mild cognitive impairment (MCI) as they age.”
Big risk factors for MCI include high levels of cholesterol in mid-life and obesity.
The cholesterol charity, Heart UK, recommends replacing foods high in saturated fat with foods higher in unsaturated fats to improve cholesterol levels.
Full-fat dairy products (such as milk, yoghurt, cream and cheese) are high in saturated fats.
Other symptoms of MCI include difficulties with reasoning, planning or problem-solving.
This may come out as a person struggling to think through their ideas and actions.
A person’s language may also be affected; for example, it may take much longer to find the right word for an object.
To illustrate, when asking to close the blinds, the person with MCI may momentarily forget that they are called blinds.
There may also be issues with visual depth perception, which can make navigating stairs more tricky, leading to more falls.
“Most healthy people experience a gradual decline in mental abilities as part of ageing,” the charity stated.
“In someone with MCI, however, the decline in mental abilities is greater than in normal ageing.”
Anyone who becomes lost in familiar places or forgets the names of close family members are likely to be experiencing MCI.
In order to minimise the risk of MCI developing into dementia, it might help to only drink alcohol in moderation, if at all.
Furthermore, it is a wise decision to be a non-smoker, reducing harm to blood vessels in the brain.
Other recommendations from the dementia charity include eating a healthy, balanced diet and doing regular bouts of physical exercise.
There is also growing evidence that card games, puzzles and reading can help prevent or delay the onset of dementia.