Plants Based Diets Healthier For The Brain – Study


Following a Mediterranean diet rich in fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, fish and healthy fats may preserve a more youthful brain in old age, a United States (U.S) study has stated. Previous research has connected Mediterranean diet to a reduced risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and other degenerative brain conditions, noted lead study author, Yian Gu of Columbia University in New York.

For the current study which is published in the journal Neurology, researchers focused on elderly people with normal cognitive function to see if the diet might also be tied to losing fewer brain cells due to aging, Gu said. Scientific evidence has shown that ageing can cause the brain to shrink.

Deterioration of the brain sneaks up on most people. As people age, their reflexes slow. They walk and act slower and in some, memory begin to fail especially the short term form of memory ability that is so crucial for learning new things.

Although, ageing brain is a major risk factor for most common neurodegenerative diseases, including mild cognitive impairment, Alzheimer’s disease, cerebrovascular disease, Pakinson’s disease and Lou Gehrig’s disease, the U.S study shows that consumption of diet of Mediterranean countries, characterized especially by a high consumption of vegetables and olive oil and moderate consumption of protein confers health benefits. Countries with coastline on the Mediterranean Sea have through their diet culture carved a niche for themselves as researchers have found their eating plan to be healthier as well as heartfriendly.

The Mediterranean diet emphasizes eating primarily plant-based foods, such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts and replacing butter with healthy fats, such as olive oil. It also includes using herbs instead of salt to flavour foods. Furthermore, Mediterranean diet features fish and poultry – lean sources of protein – over red meat, which contains more saturated fat.

Red wine is similarly consumed regularly but in moderate amounts. Explaining details of the U.S. study, Gu said: “Among cognitively healthy older adults, we were able to detect an association between higher adherence to a Mediterranean type diet and better brain measures.”

To understand the relationship between the diet and brain health, Gu and colleagues reviewed surveys that 674 elderly people completed about their eating habits and then examined magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans of their brains. Compared to the people who didn’t regularly follow many aspects of the Mediterranean diet, the participants who adhered to this way of eating more often had larger total brain volume, as well as more gray and white matter.

Higher fish intake and lower meat consumption, one aspect of a Mediterranean diet, was tied to larger total gray matter volume on the brain scans. Also, eating less meat was independently associated with larger total brain volume.

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