In a new study from Deakin University, researchers found people who eat a healthy diet during middle age have a larger brain volume than those with less healthy diets.
The findings suggest food choices in midlife may reduce the risk of dementia and other degenerative brain disorders as we age.
In the study, the team examined the eating habits and brain volumes of adults aged between 40 to 65.
They looked at data from nearly 20,000 participants in the UK Biobank, a globally accessible database containing genetic and health information from half a million people.
They focused on the Mediterranean Diet Score, or how closely people’s diets aligned with the Mediterranean diet, as this particular dietary pattern has been widely studied in relation to dementia risk and brain health.
They also looked at how well people’s diets match dietary guidelines, including from the World Health Organization (WHO), which recommend eating plenty of fruit and vegetables, grains, low fat dairy, lean meat or its alternatives, while avoiding processed or junk food.
The team found those who ate a healthy variety of foods, including plenty of vegetables, fruit, grains, and good oils, had more grey matter and larger brain volume than those whose diets included less of those foods.
The Mediterranean diet additionally encourages people to eat whole grains and fish, while limiting red meat.
The study found this dietary pattern was beneficial, but it was just as helpful to eat the varied diet recommended by WHO.
Overall, these findings suggest midlife may be a really important life stage to address unhealthy eating habits, not just to reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease, but to protect brain health.
The findings were significant because they suggest lifelong healthy eating habits are needed to protect against neurodegeneration as we age.
If you care about nutrition, please read studies about this healthy diet that may strongly prevent memory loss and dementia, and findings of green diet that may strongly lower non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
For more information about brain health, please see recent studies about diet that may help prevent brain aging, and results showing that COVID patients have higher risk for this brain disease.
The study is published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. One author of the study is Dr. Helen Macpherson.
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