Big Win For Breakfast: Regularly Eating Cereal May Keep Memory, Heart Strong In Old Age


  • New research shows that regularly eating fruits and vegetables at all ages helps protect memory as we grow older.
  • Eating cereal in our elder years may also reduce one’s risk of suffering from heart disease, the study found.

SYDNEY — Breakfast is supposed to be the most important meal of the day, but it also just so happens to be the most skipped. We all lead busy lives, and sometimes there just isn’t time in the morning to sit down and eat to start the day. It may not hurt all that much to skip breakfast every now and then as an adult, but a new study finds breakfast is that much more important in old age, particularly cereal.

Researchers at the University of Technology, Sydney have discovered that individuals over the age of 80 who regularly eat cereal are much less likely to experience memory loss and simultaneous heart disease.

The study’s authors comprehensively examined the influence of dietary habits on memory loss and performance, and came to a number of interesting conclusions. At any age, frequent consumption of fruits and vegetables was shown to lower one’s odds of memory loss and simultaneous heart disease. Maintaining a high protein diet was also linked to a strong and robust memory.

But, perhaps, the most fascinating finding from the research was the revelation that individuals over the age of 80 who never or infrequently eat cereal are at the highest risk of memory loss and comorbid heart disease.

Researchers studied over 139,000 older Australians to come to their conclusions.

“Our present study implies that the healthy eating suggestions of cereals consumption in the prevention of memory loss and comorbid heart disease for older people may differ compared to other age groups,” comments study author and UTS research fellow Dr. Luna Xu in a release.

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Dr. Xu believes these findings mean that dietary guidelines should be specialized for people depending on their age. While cereal may not be especially important for someone’s memory at age 40, it could make all the difference for an 87-year old.

Memory loss is, of course, one of the first noticeable signs of early dementia and Alzheimer’s. Another aspect of dementia that many are unaware of is that the average dementia patient usually suffers from two to eight simultaneous, or comorbid, health problems that often serve to accelerate dementia’s detrimental effects. The most common comorbid conditions seen in dementia patients are cardiovascular problems, diabetes, and high blood pressure.

“The dietary intervention in chronic disease prevention and management, by taking into consideration the fact that older populations often simultaneously deal with multiple chronic conditions, is a real challenge,” Dr Xu concludes. “To achieve the best outcome for our aging population, strong scientific evidence that supports effective dietary intervention in preventing and managing co-occurring chronic conditions, is essential.”

The study is published in the International Journal of Public Health.

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