- Mediterranean diet retains more
brain volume in older people
- Fruits, vegetables, olive oil, beans,
cereal grains, fish, lean meat, dairy and wine
encompass the Mediterranean diet.
- The findings are contrary to
earlier studies that eating more fish and less meat was not related to
changes in the brain.
The Mediterranean diet
includes large amounts
of fruits, vegetables, olive oil, beans and cereal grains such as wheat and
rice, moderate amounts of fish, dairy and wine, and limited red meat and
It is already known that
the Mediterranean diet is a great way to lose weight and improve overall health of an individual. It
is a lifestyle component in Mediterranean countries such as Italy, Greece,
Spain, Lebanon, Syria and Morocco.
‘Mediterranean diet which includes more fruits, vegetables, cereals, olive oil and an occasional drink can help retain more brain volume in older people.’
The foods that
are a part of the diet provide plenty of nutrients, antioxidants, vitamins,
minerals and fiber that work together to protect against chronic disease. Mediterranean diet discourages the use of
saturated fats and hydrogenated oils which contributes to heart disease, hypertension
and encourages the use of olive
oil as the primary source of fat.
Mediterranean Diet for Brain Health
A study published in the
online issue of Neurology
points out that older
people who followed a Mediterranean diet retained more brain volume over a
three-year period than those who did not follow the diet as closely.
Study author Michelle
Luciano, PhD, of the University of Edinburgh in Scotland said, "As we age, the brain shrinks and we lose brain cells which can
affect learning and memory. This study adds to the body of evidence that
suggests the Mediterranean diet has a positive impact on brain health."
In 2015, another
study published in the journal Neurology
which examined data from 674 people with an average age of 80 also suggests
that those who followed Mediterranean diet had heavier brains with more gray
and white matter and the diet may help make your brain about five years
For the study, researchers
gathered information on the eating habits of 967 Scottish people around age 70
who did not have dementia. After three years, 562 had an MRI brain scan to
measure overall brain volume, gray matter volume and thickness of the cortex,
which is the outer layer of the brain.
In order to compare how
closely participants followed the Mediterranean diet, a subset of 401 subjects
underwent a second MRI after another three years.
didn't follow as closely to the Mediterranean diet were more likely to have a
higher loss of total brain volume over the three years than people who followed
the diet more closely. The difference in diet explained 0.5 percent of the
variation in total brain volume, an effect that was half the size of that due
to normal aging.
There was no relationship
between gray matter volume or cortical thickness and the Mediterranean diet.
The results were the same when researchers adjusted for other factors that
could affect brain volume, such as age, education and having diabetes or high
meat consumption were not related to brain changes, which is contrary to
"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," Luciano
Luciano noted that earlier studies looked at brain
measurements at one point in time, whereas the current study followed people
Dr Sujoy Mukherjee, Consultant
Psychiatrist, West London Mental Health NHS Trust, said, "It is a well-designed
study in a relatively large number of healthy elderly to show that the Mediterranean
diet may protect from subsequent brain atrophy. This adds to the growing body
of evidence highlighting the importance of proper diet on our brain
"In our study, eating
habits were measured before brain volume, which suggests that the diet may be
able to provide long-term protection to the brain," said Luciano.
Though evidence shows
that Mediterranean diet can help keep your brain healthy as you age, it is not
yet proved that it prevents dementia.
- Mediterranean diet and brain structure in a multiethnic elderly cohort - (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26491085)
- Potential benefits of adherence to the Mediterranean diet on cognitive health - (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23228285)