Recent Blog Articles
Taking up adaptive sports
Cutting and self-harm: Why it happens and what to do
Discrimination at work is linked to high blood pressure
Pouring from an empty cup? Three ways to refill emotionally
Give praise to the elbow: A bending, twisting marvel
Sneezy and dopey? Seasonal allergies and your brain
The FDA relaxes restrictions on blood donation
Apps to accelerometers: Can technology improve mental health in older adults?
Swimming and skin: What to know if a child has eczema
A muscle-building obsession in boys: What to know and do
Mind & Mood
Managing stress and eating leafy vegetables may protect the brain
In the journals
- By Matthew Solan, Executive Editor, Harvard Men's Health Watch
- Reviewed by Howard E. LeWine, MD, Chief Medical Editor, Harvard Health Publishing
Scientists continue to examine what causes people's brain health to decline. While natural aging and genetics are part of the equation, lifestyle factors can play a significant role. Two recent studies further explored this connection by looking at how stress and diet might affect cognitive function and protect against Alzheimer's disease.
One study found that perceived stress — the degree of stress people feel about their life — was linked to poor cognitive health among older adults. Researchers recruited more than 24,000 people (average age 64). They measured stress and cognitive function with the Perceived Stress Scale and the Mini-Mental State Examination. The results showed that people who scored highest on the stress level scale were more likely to have low cognitive test scores. The reverse was also true — lower stress levels went hand in hand with higher test scores. The results were published online March 7, 2023, by JAMA Network Open.
In another study, published online March 8, 2023, by Neurology, researchers explored whether certain dietary habits may lower the risk of Alzheimer's. The researchers analyzed data on 581 people from the Rush Memory and Aging Project cohort, a prospective study of older adults who agreed to undergo annual evaluations and to donate their brain at death. Participants reported on their dietary habits and completed annual food questionnaires.
The researchers found that people who regularly followed plant-based diets had lower amounts of beta-amyloid buildup in their brains, a marker for Alzheimer's. Among this group, people with the highest intake of green leafy vegetables — seven or more weekly servings — had less buildup than those who ate only one or two servings a week.
Image: © Daniel de la Hoz/Getty Images
About the Author
Matthew Solan, Executive Editor, Harvard Men's Health Watch
About the Reviewer
Howard E. LeWine, MD, Chief Medical Editor, Harvard Health Publishing
As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles.
No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.
You might also be interested in…
Stress Management: Enhance your well-being by reducing stress and building resilience
While some stress is inevitable, when your body repeatedly encounters a set of physiological changes dubbed the stress response, trouble can brew. Stress may contribute to or exacerbate various health problems. But it’s possible to dismantle negative stress cycles. This Special Health Report, Stress Management: Enhance your well-being by reducing stress and building resilience, can help you identify your stress warning signs and learn how to better manage stressful situations.
Free Healthbeat Signup
Get the latest in health news delivered to your inbox!