For overweight men and women aged 50-80, an HMRI nutritional supplement study being conducted at the University of Newcastle (UON) may help kick-start those New Year’s resolutions to improve both physical and mental wellbeing.
The Clinical Nutrition Research Centre team, led by Dr Rachel Wong and Professor Peter Howe, has shown that adults carrying excess weight and doing insufficient physical activity have stiffer blood vessels in the brain, which is linked to memory loss.
“An early decline in memory increases the risk of dementia, which is now Australia’s second largest cause of death”, says Dr Wong. “By supplementing the diet with fish oil and curcumin, we hope to prevent those consequences by targeting inflammation and improving the health of blood vessels in the brain.
Professor Howe believes the demands of a hectic lifestyle can make it difficult for people to maintain a balanced diet and find time to exercise.
“This contributes to chronic low-grade inflammation in blood vessels, affecting their ability to regulate blood flow, and may lead to memory problems, poor concentration and mood disorders,” he says.
Adds PhD student Julia Kuszewski: “We believe those nutrients can indirectly benefit cognitive performance by improving the supply of blood to meet the demands of nervous tissue.”
The research team is looking for overweight adults (BMI between 25-35 kg/m2) between 50 and 80 years old (women must be post-menopausal). Applicants should do less than 2.5 hours per week of planned exercise (walking not included) and should not currently be taking fish oil or curcumin supplements, to enrol in the 16-week intervention trial. Volunteers can phone Julia Kuszewski on 4921-8616 or email Julia.Kuszewski@uon.edu.au for more information.