New Study: Your Brain on the Mediterranean Diet
New research shows the Mediterranean diet might protect the brain with age. Even though many factors that play a role in memory loss and dementia are out of our control (like genetics), this new research suggests that some things within our control might make a difference.
Here are the details:
At the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases, researchers looked at 512 adults, with an average age of 70. 169 of them were cognitively healthy, and 343 of them were at a high risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease (either because of early warning signs or family history).
The researchers performed MRI brain scans to measure brain atrophy (shrinkage), measured levels of amyloid beta proteins and tau proteins (markers of Alzheimer’s disease) in the spinal fluid, and conducted memory tests.
They also asked the participants to complete a food and diet questionnaire.
Here were some of the findings:
● Those who regularly ate fish and vegetables performed better on the memory tests.
● Those who regularly ate a Mediterranean-like diet had lower levels of amyloid beta and tau proteins in their spinal fluid.
● Those who ate closer to a Mediterranean diet had a higher volume (less shrinkage) of an area of the brain called the hippocampus - an important area for memory.
There is so much more we have to learn about the aging brain. But for now, it seems reasonable and risk-free to focus on a healthy lifestyle and diet.
Some of the key characteristics of a Mediterranean diet? Health fats (like olive oil, fish, and nuts), lean protein (like fish and poultry), beans, vegetables, fruits, and whole grains!
Ballarini T, Melo van Lent D, Brunner J et al. Mediterranean Diet, Alzheimer Disease Biomarkers and Brain Atrophy in Old Age. Neurology. 2021. [link]