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Mediterranean diet beneficially affects brain volume

By Tim Sandle     Jan 17, 2017 in Health
New research indicates that the Mediterranean diet leads to a positive impact on brain health. This is based upon brain volume being maintained at a higher rate.
The research is based on a review of elderly people who regularly consumed what is known as the ‘Mediterranean diet’. This diet incorporates the traditional habits of people from countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea, including Italy, France, Greece and Spain. These diets are generally regarded as healthier than those in other countries. The diet varies by region although it is largely based on vegetables, fruits, nuts, beans, cereal grains, olive oil and fish. Levels of alcohol and dairy are generally lower than other western diets.
The new research comes from the University of Edinburgh and the research was focused on people who live in Scotland. The study included 967 people who were aged over 70 years. Of this group, 562 people underwent magnetic resonance imaging scans. The scans determined the thickness of the outer brain layer (cortex), gray matter volume and overall brain volume.
Four years later, 401 of the 562 people underwent a further scan and the data was compared. The results were also cross-checked against the type of diet the people practiced.
It was found that the subjects who regularly consumed the Mediterranean diet were more likely to have a lower level of total brain volume over the intervening period. In fact the brain volume loss was 50 percent lower compared with those who eat a general diet. Therefore there seemed to be some effect that slowed down the rate of ageing. However, there was no impact in from those who eat the Mediterranean diet in terms of cortical thickness and gray matter volume.
Talking with Bioscience Technology, lead investigator Dr. Michelle Luciano said that meat and fish were unlikely to be determinants and that instead “it’s possible that other components of the Mediterranean diet are responsible for this relationship, or that it’s due to all of the components in combination.”
She added further: “the diet may be able to provide long-term protection to the brain.” While this is interesting, the researchers also note that further studies will be required to confirm the findings, including those looking at different demographics and geographical regions.
The findings are published in the journal Neurology. The paper is titled “Mediterranean-type diet and brain structural change from 73 to 76 years in a Scottish cohort.”
More about Mediterranean diet, Brain, Diet, Ageing, Aging
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