Just like the rest of your body, your brain ages. You need to take care of your aging brain just as you would look after your physical health. The reality of aging includes a brain that is getting smaller and doesn’t perform as well.
Can our diet affect the way our brain ages?
The healthiest brains appear to be in those who follow a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes. Add some oil and lean meat or fish and you have the Mediterranean diet.
Research has been done with a group of Scots who switched to this type of diet after the age of 70. As a whole, their brains had shrunk half as much as the brains of another group whose diet didn’t change. To look at exactly how diet was influencing aging, a group born in 1936 was tracked by lifestyle and the status of their health.
When they reached 70 they filled out a form to show researchers which foods they ate. Also, what they stayed away from and how often certain foods were consumed. At age 73 and again at age 76 they had brain scans to show overall brain health.
Those who had adhered to a diet that was close to the Mediterranean diet had less brain shrinkage. They also had better overall health, including fewer heart attacks and lower cholesterol.
Researchers still aren’t sure which parts of this diet have the most impact on the brain. Is it eating less red meat or the increase in plant based foods. There is also the possibility that the control group may have been more intelligent and had more education, leading them to live a healthier lifestyle overall.
At this time, it’s still not known just how diet can affect brain size or if starting a healthy diet earlier in life rather than later can make a difference. To read the full article, click here.