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Nutr Hosp. 2018 Sep 7;35(Spec No6):16-19. doi: 10.20960/nh.2281.

[Nutrition strategies that improve cognitive function].

[Article in Spanish; Abstract available in Spanish from the publisher]

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in English, Spanish

Cognitive capacity can be influenced by components of the diet. Low glycemic index foods seem to improve attention, memory and functional capacity, while those rich in simple sugars are associated with difficulty in concentration and attention. The brain needs a continuous supply of amino acids for the synthesis of neurotransmitters, especially serotonin and catecholamines. Low levels of serotonin have been linked to decreased learning, reasoning and memory. The quality and type of dietary fat can also affect intellectual and mental capacity. High saturated fat intake has been related to cognitive deterioration while the consumption of polyunsaturated fatty acids (docosahexaenoic acid) has beneficial effects in their prevention. It is advisable to consume diets with an adequate ratio (5:1) of omega-6: 3 fatty acids (Mediterranean diet) given that they are associated with better memory capacity and lower risk of cognitive deterioration. Vitamins B1, B6, B12, B9 (folic acid) and D, choline, iron and iodine exert neuroprotective effects and improve intellectual performance. In parallel, antioxidants (vitamins C, E, A, zinc, selenium, lutein and zeaxanthin) have a very important role in the defense against oxidative stress associated with mental deterioration and in the improvement of cognition. Currently, there is a high consumption of diets rich in saturated fats and refined sugars and low intake of fruits, vegetables and water that can negatively affect cognitive ability. Adequate nutrition is necessary to optimize brain function and prevent cognitive decline.

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