For many years, clinicians have been wondering if certain diets can help improve cognitive performance, concentration, and mental aptitude. Over the past few decades, there has been a strong belief that diets high in protein are supposed to be better than high carb or high fat diets for good mental health. However, recently, there have been many isolated reports suggesting that diets high in carbohydrates or fat can lead to better concentration and attention span.
In the last two decades, evidence has accumulated that human error is a major cause of accidents in the airline industry. Further, long working hours, flying along several time zones and lack of proper nutrition have also been other factors associated with pilot errors. There is currently little data on the potential association between dietary intake and cognitive performance.
In the present study investigators sought to compare diets high in carbohydrates, fat, or protein to test their effects on cognition, flight performance, and pattern of sleep. Forty-five pilots were registered in this 14-week study during which individuals were randomized to be given a diet high in fats, diet high in carbs, a diet high in protein or a controlled diet.
The results showed that a diet high in carbohydrates or fat could lead to markedly enhanced cognitive performance and awareness testing score in pilots than a diet high in protein. Further, the study revealed that a high-carbohydrate diet helped pilots sleep better and longer, and a high-fat diet seemed to lead to a significantly quicker recollection of short-term memory. Finally, the results showed that by and large, flight-performance scores for pilots consuming a high-protein diet were considerably inferior than for those consuming a high-carbohydrate or a high-fat diet