The effectiveness of nutritional interventions to prevent and maintain cognitive functioning in older adults has been gaining interest due to global population ageing. A systematic literature review was conducted to obtain and appraise relevant studies on the effects of dietary protein or thiamine on cognitive function in healthy older adults. Studies that reported on the use of nutritional supplementations and/or populations with significant cognitive impairment were excluded. Seventeen eligible studies were included. Evidence supporting an association between higher protein and/or thiamine intakes and better cognitive function is weak. There was no evidence to support the role of specific protein food sources, such as types of meat, on cognitive function. Some cross-sectional and case-control studies reported better cognition in those with higher dietary thiamine intakes, but the data remains inconclusive. Adequate protein and thiamine intake is more likely associated with achieving a good overall nutritional status which affects cognitive function rather than single nutrients. A lack of experimental studies in this area prevents the translation of these dietary messages for optimal cognitive functioning and delaying the decline in cognition with advancing age.
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