Vegetarian dietary patterns and cognitive function among older adults
The Adventist Health Study-2
Gatto, N. M., Garcia-Cano, J., Irani, C., Jaceldo-Siegl, K., Liu, T., Chen, Z., Paul, J., Fraser, G., Wang, C., & Lee, G. J. (2021). Vegetarian dietary patterns and cognitive function among older adults: The Adventist Health Study-2. Journal of nutrition in gerontology and geriatrics, 40(4), 197-214. https://doi.org/10.1080/21551197.2021.1965939
We explored effects on cognitive function of following plant-based vegetarian compared with non-vegetarian dietary patterns in otherwise healthy older community-dwelling members of the Adventist Health Study-2 cohort (n = 132). Cognition was assessed using a comprehensive neuropsychological battery; a principal components analysis derived processing speed, executive function, and memory/language factors. Mild memory impairment (MMI) (n = 26, 19.7%) was identified by memory tests. Vegetarians consumed (a) meats, fish, and dairy <1 time/month, (b) dairy ≥1 time/month and meats, and fish <1 time/month, or (c) fish ≥1 time/month, no limits on dairy, and meats <1 time/month. Dietary patterns were determined at baseline, for each decade, and at cognitive assessment; a diet stability score was calculated. Factor scores were not different between vegetarians and non-vegetarians, nor was dietary pattern associated with a lower odds of MMI. A more stable diet over the life course was associated with better memory/language [β = 0.021 SE(β) = 0.008; p = 0.01]. This exploratory study did not support differences in processing speed, executive function, or memory/language abilities between vegetarians and non-vegetarians but did suggest that a more stable dietary pattern which was characteristic of vegetarians was associated with better memory/language abilities.