Previous studies have demonstrated that irregular mealtimes alter the hippocampus’s internal clock rhythms. It influences cognitive function. Eating twice between 9 am and 3 pm, and dividing the same quantity of food into four meals between 9 am and 3 pm could improve cognitive function, according to a short-term intervention experiment including 96 young adults. However, long-term research on TPEIs and cognitive performance is still limited.
The researchers used two methods to measure cognitive function:
1) A data-driven k-means algorithm was used to identify six patterns of TPEIs, including the ‘evenly-distributed’ pattern, ‘breakfast-dominant’ pattern, ‘lunch-dominant’ pattern, ‘dinner-dominant’ pattern, ‘snack-rich’ pattern, and ‘breakfast-skipping’ pattern.
2) Cognitive function was assessed using the modified Telephone Interview for Cognitive Status (TICS- (5 points).
3) The correlation of TPEIs to cognitive function over 10 years was evaluated using linear mixed models (LMMs), which were adjusted for age, gender, residence, total energy, physical activity, smoking status, alcohol consumption, household income, education level, and body mass index. The total global cognitive score ranged from 0 to 27, with a higher score indicating better cognitive function.
Optimum Mealtimes Improves Cognitive Performance
The results showed that those with uneven TPEIs, particularly those with a ‘breakfast-skipping’ pattern, had significantly worse long-term cognitive function scores than those with an ‘evenly-distributed’ pattern. Keeping a healthy balance of TPEIs can therefore potentially improve cognitive health, whereas skipping breakfast can considerably raise the risk of cognitive decline in middle-aged and older persons. This study’s conclusion emphasizes the significance of optimum TPEIs for cognitive performance.
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