We know that the Mediterranean diet reduces the risk of heart disease, and some research even suggests that it can help lower your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
Now new research is showing that following this century-old diet may also help keep your brain younger as you age.
Keeping your grey matter
In a recent study conducted at Columbia University in New York City, researchers first looked at the survey results about the eating habits of 674 elderly patients and then reviewed MRI brain scans of the same participants.
The researchers found that elderly patients who had the least problems with cognitive function or memory and who also followed the Mediterranean diet were more likely to have larger total brain volume as well as more grey and white matter compared to those who didn’t follow the Mediterranean diet.
The researchers also found that those participants who ate more fish and less red meat also showed more total grey matter – a major component of the central nervous system.
The researchers concluded that the difference in brain volume associated with the Mediterranean diet was equivalent to five years of ageing. In other words, the brains of the participants who followed the Mediterranean diet looked five years younger under MRI scans, compared to the brains of those who didn’t follow the diet.
While the study didn’t prove cause and effect, it did show an association between the Mediterranean diet and larger brain volume.
This latest study isn’t the first to associate the Mediterranean diet with better brain health. Earlier this year a study from Spain found that adding additional olive oil and nuts to a Mediterranean diet (already rich in both) slowed down the decline in cognitive function in 447 healthy elderly patients.
In addition, earlier observational studies have demonstrated better cognitive function and a lower-than-normal risk of dementia among people who follow the Mediterranean diet.
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Mediterranean Diet For Brain Health, published online 29.10.15, drweil.com