OCT 29, 2015 05:02 AM PDT

Brain Food

The saying “You are what you eat” is proving pretty accurate in regards to diet and brain health. Two studies have shown that the Mediterranean Diet has a positive influence on brain health. The Mediterranean diet is heavy in fish, healthy fats like olive oil, leafy vegetables and whole grains. It’s been shown to help cardiac patients stay healthy and keep their cholesterol and blood pressure in a healthy range and now more recent studies show it helps keep our brains in shape too.
 
A diet rich in legumes, olives and veggies is good for the brain

 In the first study, done at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, researchers came up with a hybrid of the Mediterranean diet and another healthy diet called DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension.) They dubbed this diet the MIND diet, for Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay. The study had ready subjects because they were able to get the help of volunteers already participating in the ongoing Rush Memory and Aging Project (MAP), which began in 1997 among residents of Chicago-area retirement communities and senior public housing complexes. The team added an optional "food frequency questionnaire" from 2004 to February 2013. Out of 923 volunteers, there were 144 cases of Alzheimer’s disease reported. The study found that those who reported eating the foods offered on MIND diet lowered their risk of AD by as much as 53 percent in participants who adhered to the diet almost exactly, and by about 35 percent in those who followed it moderately well. 
 
In another study this one at Columbia University researchers used the Mediterranean diet in a group of subjects to see if it had any effect on to age related shrinkage of brain tissue. Rather than using a study population of Alzhiemer’s patients, the team at Columbia used test subjects that were over 80 years old but had normal cognitive function.  
 
Approximately 674 healthy elderly subjects were given detailed questionaires about what they ate. They were then given MRI scans to measure brain volume of both grey and white matter. The study participants were grouped into two sections, those who followed the diet in a strict manner and those were more moderate in the diet. The people who more closely followed a Mediterranean-like diet had total brain volume that was 13.11 milliliters larger than those who did not follow the Mediterranean diet. Their gray matter volume was 5.0 milliliters larger, and their white matter volume was 6.41 milliliters larger. In a press release from Columbia, study author Yian Gu, PhD said,  “These results are exciting, as they raise the possibility that people may potentially prevent brain shrinking and the effects of aging on the brain simply by following a healthy diet.” 
 
Gu was quick to point out that the study did not show that the Mediterranean diet prevented brain shrinkage, only that the diet was associated with less shrinkage. In an interview with Reuters she 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.” Check out the video to learn more about the Columbia study.
 
About the Author
  • I'm a writer living in the Boston area. My interests include cancer research, cardiology and neuroscience. I want to be part of using the Internet and social media to educate professionals and patients in a collaborative environment.
You May Also Like
SEP 06, 2018
Health & Medicine
SEP 06, 2018
Self-Harm Impacts Nearly 25% of Girls in the UK
Adolescence can be a trying time for children and their families. Hormone shifts, social media pressures, school stress, and so much else can combine to ma...
SEP 22, 2018
Immunology
SEP 22, 2018
Could Diet Protect Against Brain Inflammation?
Immune brain cell inflammation due to aging can be mitigated through a high fiber diet...
SEP 25, 2018
Neuroscience
SEP 25, 2018
Is Laziness Hardwired in the Brain?
Staying motivated to stick with a fitness program, a diet or some other new or healthy habit can be challenging. Despite the best intentions most people ha...
OCT 07, 2018
Neuroscience
OCT 07, 2018
Marijuana and Anxiety
Like many neurotransmitters in the brain (dopamine, serotonin, etc.) the when and the where they are released in the brain is of utmost importance in deter...
OCT 08, 2018
Neuroscience
OCT 08, 2018
Esports Curriculum to Study the Brain and Gaming
In the field of neuroscience, there is a lot of research on the effects video games have on the brain. Video game addiction has been declared a medical dis...
OCT 08, 2018
Videos
OCT 08, 2018
What Is Brain Hacking and What Can We Do With It?
What exactly is “brain hacking?” Well, it sounds nefarious, but it’s actually about connecting the brain to external devices and monitors...
Loading Comments...