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Best diet for the brain revealed, but will it work?

The Mediterranean diet is well-established as one that helps overall heart health. The diet is rich in plant foods like beans, seeds, nuts, and legumes, together with fruit and large dose of olive oil. This is because the diet is not associated with leaving fatty deposits that can block up arteries.

This diet may also confer benefits in relation to the brain, at least in terms of being associated with a slower rate of cognitive decline. This claim comes from the Centre for Human Psychopharmacology, Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne, VIC, Australia, who have been working with researchers from the Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition Research, Deakin University, Melbourne, VIC, Australia.

The research is not based on any new experiments but as the result of a meta-study, where earlier research is evaluated. For this the research teams assessed published papers from between 2000 and 2015.

Of the 135 papers Laboratory Roots reports that some 18 met the criteria of robust studies (in terms of research methodology). While the results relate to a positive correlation, rather than to direct evidence, the outcome from the studies are that attention, memory, and language were all improved with those who regularly consumed the Mediterranean diet.

Commenting on the outcome of the research review, lead researcher Dr. Roy Hardman stated “The most surprising result was that the positive effects were found in countries around the whole world.” This inferred that the Mediterranean diet itself made a difference rather than the location that people resided in or their individual genetic make-up.

Importantly, while the results may show a positive correlation, age related neurodegenerative disorders have a probable genetic connection. Here diet would counterbalance the hereditary element within the genes. However, for non-genetic disorders, particularly those affected by inflammation, the results could be beneficial.

The findings are published in the journal Frontiers in Nutrition. The research paper is titled “Adherence to a Mediterranean-Style Diet and Effects on Cognition in Adults: A Qualitative Evaluation and Systematic Review of Longitudinal and Prospective Trials.”

Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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