Eating Lots of Carbs, Sugar May Raise Risk of Cognitive Impairment, Mayo Clinic Study Finds

Those 70-Plus Who Ate Food High In Fat And Protein Fared Better Cognitively, Research Showed

That’s it. That’s the title of an article recently in posted on the Mayo Clinic website on October 16. It doesn’t get much more Paleo than that.

The study by Mayo Clinic epidemiologist Rosebud Roberts, M.B., Ch.B. and colleagues was published in January 12, 2012 in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. While the type of carbs is not listed in the abstract, carbs in the typical U.S. diet are mostly grains and added sugars.

“Those who reported the highest carbohydrate intake at the beginning of the study were 1.9 times likelier to develop mild cognitive impairment than those with the lowest intake of carbohydrates. Participants with the highest sugar intake were 1.5 times likelier to experience mild cognitive impairment than those with the lowest levels.”

“But those whose diets were highest in fat — compared to the lowest — were 42 percent less likely to face cognitive impairment, and those who had the highest intake of protein had a reduced risk of 21 percent.”

“When total fat and protein intake were taken into account, people with the highest carbohydrate intake were 3.6 times likelier to develop mild cognitive impairment.”

The conclusion from the abstract:

“A dietary pattern with relatively high caloric intake from carbohydrates and low caloric intake from fat and proteins may increase the risk of MCI or dementia in elderly persons.”

Bottom line: More evidence Paleo nutrition sustains brain health. More evidence the low-fat advice is mistaken.


J Alzheimers Dis. 2012 Jan 1;32(2):329-39. doi: 10.3233/JAD-2012-120862.
Relative intake of macronutrients impacts risk of mild cognitive impairment or dementia.