Mediterranean diet on the brain

A new study shows that older people who followed a Mediterranean diet retained more brain volume over a three-year period than those who did not follow the diet as closely.

“As we age, the brain shrinks and we lose brain cells which can affect learning and memory,” said study author Michelle Luciano, PhD, of the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. “This study adds to the body of evidence that suggests the Mediterranean diet has a positive impact on brain health.”

What is the Mediterranean diet?

The Mediterranean diet includes large amounts of fruits, vegetables, olive oil, beans and cereal grains such as wheat and rice, moderate amounts of fish, dairy and wine, and limited red meat and poultry.

“As we age, the brain shrinks and we lose brain cells which can affect learning and memory”

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The study

Researchers gathered information on the eating habits of 967 Scottish people around age 70 who did not have dementia. Of those people, 562 had an MRI brain scan around age 73 to measure overall brain volume, grey matter volume and thickness of the cortex, which is the outer layer of the brain. From that group, 401 people then returned for a second MRI at age 76. These measurements were compared to how closely participants followed the Mediterranean diet.

Researcher found that people who didn’t follow the Mediterranean diet closely were more likely to have a higher loss of total brain volume over the three years than people who followed the diet more closely. The difference in diet explained 0.5 percent of the variation in total brain volume, an effect that was half the size of that due to normal ageing.

The results were the same when researchers adjusted for other factors that could affect brain volume, such as age, education and having diabetes or high blood pressure.

Source: American Academy of Neurology (AAN) via Sciencedaily.com