Mediterranean Diet May Mitigate Brain Aging in Elderly

Seniors who ate more foods tied to the eating plan, especially fish, had more volume, equivalent to five less years of aging.
Seniors who ate more foods tied to the eating plan, especially fish, had more volume, equivalent to five less years of aging.

HealthDay News — People over 65 who eat more fish, vegetables, fruit, grains, and olive oil may have a larger brain volume than those who do not follow a Mediterranean-like diet, according to research published online in Neurology.

Yian Gu, PhD, an assistant professor of neuropsychology at Columbia University in New York City, and colleagues split 674 adults into two groups based on how closely their eating habits aligned with the Mediterranean diet (MeDi). Their average age was 80 years. All participants underwent magnetic resonance imaging of their brains to measure total brain volume and cortical thickness. They also completed questionnaires about their food choices and eating patterns.

The researchers found that total brain volume, total gray matter volume, and total white matter volume were larger in the MeDi group. The investigators also found that eating more fish and less meat was specifically associated with positive effects on brain structure.

"Among older adults, MeDi adherence was associated with less brain atrophy, with an effect similar to five years of aging," the authors conclude. "Higher fish and lower meat intake might be the two key food elements that contribute to the benefits of MeDi on brain structure."

Reference

Gu Y, et al. Mediterranean diet and brain structure in a multiethnic elderly cohort. Neurology. 2015; doi: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000002121.

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