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Keep Off Junk Foods for Cognitive Wellness

Mediterranean diet food guideline chart

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New research from Rush Medical College, in Chicago, shows that regularly cheating on a healthy diet undermines its cognitive benefits. For 19 years, researchers followed 5,001 adults over age 65 that were asked to eat the Mediterranean diet, with its emphasis on daily servings of fruit, vegetables, legumes, olive oil, fish, potatoes and unrefined cereals, plus moderate wine consumption. Every three years, their cognitive abilities were tested and their diets reviewed, including how often they ate a Western diet of fried foods, sweets, refined grains, red meat and processed meats. After almost two decades, those that adhered most faithfully to the Mediterranean diet were cognitively 5.8 years younger than those that followed it the least.

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Global Brief: Natural Thinking Spending Time in Nature Increases Cognitive Performance
More of our time is spent indoors than ever before. One of the ways by which nature may improve cognitive function (i.e. the acquisition of and goal-oriented use of knowledge) is by improving memory formation and recall, specifically that of short-term or working memory, and goal-oriented or directed attention; the kind that requires focused effort. By comparing and contrasting 13 studies, a team of researchers has shed light on this complex interaction in research published in Frontiers in Psychology. The studies used the backwards digit span task, which requires participants to invert a series of numbers and repeat them back. All demonstrated significantly improved cognition in nature as compared to urban environments. The benefits of studies like this are two-fold: not only are we learning more about how the brain interacts with its environment, but also how to leverage this interaction to lead healthier, more productive and happier lives.
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