Current issue


Volume 39, issue 2

Review article

Nutrition and cognitive function in the elderly population

Monika Bidzan-Wiącek1, Leszek Bidzan2
1. Division of Bioenergetics and Physiology of Exercise, Medical University of Gdansk, Poland
2. Division of Developmental Psychiatry, Psychotic and Geriatric Disorders, Medical University of Gdansk, Poland; Klinika Psychiatrii Rozwojowej, Zaburzeń Psychotycznych i Wieku Podeszłego, Gdański Uniwersytet Medyczny, Polska
Farmakoterapia w Psychiatrii i Neurologii 2023, 39 (2), 187–201
Date of publication: 19-01-2024
Keywords: dementia, diet, cognitive function


Objectives. Cognitive problems, including dementia, which affects a significant part of the elderly population, are becoming a major public health concern. The biolo­gical changes leading to brain damage begin years before the onset of clinical symptoms. The severity of biological changes is determined by many factors. Some of those factors, including diet, can be modified. Studies have shown that the type of diet affects the severity of cognitive impairment and/or the prevalence of dementia.

Literature review. This paper outlines the suggested effect of comprehensive dietary strategies on cognitive function. There is some evidence that the Mediterranean diet as well as some types of dietary restrictions can have protective effects against cognitive decline and dementia. Some animal-based models suggest that lower calorie intake is associated with increased life expectancy and reduced risk of cognitive decline. A low intake of saturated fatty acids (SFA) is one of the factors in the Mediterranean diet that is beneficial to health. Replacing SFA with PUFA improves glucose and cholesterol regulation and increases BDNF levels in the hippocampus. The Medi­terranean diet is also rich in dietary polyphenols, which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

Conclusions. Protective effects of diet are determined by adherence to diet before ageing. There is currently no evidence of the therapeutic effectiveness of interventional dietary changes in patients with clinical manifest­ations of dementia.

Address for correspondence:
Leszek Bidzan
Klinika Psychiatrii Rozwojowej, Zaburzeń Psychotycznych i Wieku Podeszłego Gdańskiego Uniwersytetu Medycznego
ul. Srebrniki 17, 80-282 Gdańsk