A Balanced Eating Schedule is Beneficial for Cognitive Health

A Balanced Eating Schedule is Beneficial for Cognitive Health

by Dr. Trupti Shirole on Sep 20 2022 12:17 PM
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  • Irregular mealtimes increase the risk of chronic diseases like diabetes and hypertension
  • Irregular mealtimes affect long-term cognitive function, particularly in people who skip breakfast
About 55 million individuals worldwide suffer from dementia. The prevalence of the condition has risen gradually. By 2050, the population will triple, especially in low- and middle-income nations. Dementia negatively impacts a person’s quality of life. It also places a heavy financial strain on families and society.

Irregular Mealtimes Increase the Risk of Chronic Diseases

The temporal distribution of energy intake (TPEI) throughout the day and the risk of developing numerous chronic diseases like diabetes and hypertension are linked in epidemiological research. However, there isn’t a lot of data showing how TPEI affects cognitive performance in the general population.

Previous studies have demonstrated that irregular mealtimes alter the hippocampus’s internal clock rhythms. It influences cognitive function. Eating twice between 9 am and 3 pm, and dividing the same quantity of food into four meals between 9 am and 3 pm could improve cognitive function, according to a short-term intervention experiment including 96 young adults. However, long-term research on TPEIs and cognitive performance is still limited.

The researchers used two methods to measure cognitive function:
1) A data-driven k-means algorithm was used to identify six patterns of TPEIs, including the ‘evenly-distributed’ pattern, ‘breakfast-dominant’ pattern, ‘lunch-dominant’ pattern, ‘dinner-dominant’ pattern, ‘snack-rich’ pattern, and ‘breakfast-skipping’ pattern.
2) Cognitive function was assessed using the modified Telephone Interview for Cognitive Status (TICS- (5 points).
3) The correlation of TPEIs to cognitive function over 10 years was evaluated using linear mixed models (LMMs), which were adjusted for age, gender, residence, total energy, physical activity, smoking status, alcohol consumption, household income, education level, and body mass index. The total global cognitive score ranged from 0 to 27, with a higher score indicating better cognitive function.

Optimum Mealtimes Improves Cognitive Performance

The results showed that those with uneven TPEIs, particularly those with a ‘breakfast-skipping’ pattern, had significantly worse long-term cognitive function scores than those with an ‘evenly-distributed’ pattern. Keeping a healthy balance of TPEIs can therefore potentially improve cognitive health, whereas skipping breakfast can considerably raise the risk of cognitive decline in middle-aged and older persons. This study's conclusion emphasizes the significance of optimum TPEIs for cognitive performance.