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Numerous studies have found evidence of the fact that the diet we consume not only affects our physical health but also influences our mental health. Now, researchers have found that consuming a choline rich diet can boost our memory and fight dementia.

Study Find that Increased Choline Intake can Lead to Better Cognitive Performance

Alzheimer’s disease, a disease where there is a progressive memory loss affects 26 million people around the world. The scientists have been trying for long to find out the exact mechanism behind this memory loss. In their endeavor to find out the factors associated with memory loss, researchers from the Boston University of Medicine have found that increased choline intake can lead to better cognitive performance.

The study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, was conducted on 1391 people between the ages of 36 to 83 years, from the Framingham offspring cohort. The participants were asked to complete a questionnaire regarding their food habits from 1991 to 1995. None of the participants suffered from dementia at the onset of the study.

Between the years 1998 to 2001, the participants were subjected to neuropsychological examination to evaluate visual memory, verbal memory, verbal learning and executive functions. They were also asked to undergo a brain MRI to measure the white matter hyper-intensity volume. This indicates the likelihood of a patient undergoing stroke or dementia.

The researchers noted that participants who consumed a diet rich in choline performed better in tests related to visual memory and verbal memory. Similarly, a choline rich diet was found to be associated with reduced white matter hyper-intensity volume. Thus, the patients taking a diet rich in choline showed better cognitive performance. They were also less likely to exhibit signs of dementia compared to people consuming a diet poor in choline.

Choline is a Precursor of Acetylcholine which is Important for Memory

Choline is a precursor of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter, which is important for memory. In case of absence of choline, which causes destruction of cholinergic neurons, the cognitive function is impaired leading to memory loss and the condition may even progress to Alzheimer’s disease. Moreover, choline reduces the likelihood of white matter hyper-intensity areas, which are associated with poor cognitive function.

Choline is present in eggs, chicken, liver, soy and kidney beans, milk, saltwater fish, etc. According to experts, men should consume 550 milligrams of choline everyday, whereas women should ideally take 425 milligrams of choline per day.

While the present study establishes the important role that choline plays in preventing dementia, other studies have found that some more dietary components also play an equally crucial role in prevention of dementia. Diets like the Mediterranean diet, which comprises of fish, vegetables, whole grains, fruits and olive oil, have been found to be beneficial in preventing the development of Alzheimer’s disease. This implies that apart from choline, other nutrients are also important for the proper cognitive functioning of the brain.

Therefore, experts suggest that eating a healthy diet is the key to maintaining a good mental health. Moreover, further research is needed to firmly establish the mechanism by which choline helps in boosting the memory.