Accumulating evidence suggests that diet and lifestyle can play an important role in delaying the onset or halting the progression of age-related health disorders and can improve cognitive function. Exercise has been promoted as a possible prevention for neurodegenerative diseases. Exercise will have a positive influence on cognition and it increases the brain-derived neurotrophic factor, an essential neurotrophin. Several dietary components have been identified as having effects on cognitive abilities. In particular, polyphenols have been reported to exert their neuroprotective actions through the potential to protect neurons against injury induced by neurotoxins, an ability to suppress neuroinflammation, and the potential to promote memory, learning, and cognitive function. Dietary factors can affect multiple brain processes by regulating neurotransmitter pathways, synaptic transmission, membrane fluidity, and signal-transduction pathways. Flavonols are part of the flavonoid family that is found in various fruits, cocoa, wine, tea and beans. Although the antioxidant effects of flavonols are well established in vitro, there is general agreement that flavonols have more complex actions in vivo. Several cross-sectional and longitudinal studies have shown that a higher intake of flavonoids from food may be associated with a better cognitive evolution. Whether this reflects a causal association remains to be elucidated. Several studies have tried to 'manipulate' thebrain in order to postpone central fatigue. Most studies have clearly shown that in normal environmental circumstances these interventions are not easy to perform. There is accumulating evidence that rinsing the mouth with a carbohydrate solution will improve endurance performance. There is a need for additional well controlled studies to explore the possible impact of diet and nutrition on brain functioning.
Sports Med. 44(Suppl 1):47-56.