Hey, how was lunch?
Did you have any beef liver or egg yolks? Kefir, perhaps? Handful of almonds? Side of rice? If any of those are regularly on your plate, a new study from the University of Illinois is the latest to suggest you’re consuming a diet that will give you a higher level of cognitive flexibility in your later years.
A new study of older adults finds an association between higher blood levels of phosphatidylcholine, a source of the dietary nutrient choline, and greater cognitive flexibility, the ability to regulate attention to manage competing tasks. The study also identified a brain structure within the prefrontal cortex, a region at the front of the brain, that appears to play a role in this association.
You can get choline in vitamin form, but consuming it through food is generally better for you. Also tastier.
Why is cognitive flexibility important? It helps you adjust your thinking based on new information. This ability is especially helpful in breaking old habits, considering multiple points of view or being successful when trying new things. Put in terms that your grandpa likes to use, it ensures you will be an old dog who can learn new tricks.
In a follow-up interview, U of I graduate student and the study’s co-lead Marta Zamroziewicz said that while this study can’t confirm the effects of phosphatidylcholine throughout your life, “previous evidence indicates that phosphatidylcholine may play a role across the lifespan,” including in college-aged students.
“Ultimately, this line of research can inform clinical investigations of comprehensive and personalized approaches to nutritional intervention that takes into account dietary patterns and individual variability in nutritional status and brain health,” says Zamroziewicz.