The Best Diet for Brain Health
Keep your brain in marathon shape by going MedBy Wendy Bazilian, DrPH, RD
Research since the 1960s has shown that those who eat a Mediterranean-style diet have lower risk of heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and overall mortality. But it appears what’s good for the rest of the body—and the taste buds—is also good for the brain.
In a recent study of over 700 older New Yorkers (average age 80), UC Davis scientists looked for brain injuries—incidents that show up on imaging like mini-stokes but are commonly undetected otherwise and increase with age—using MRI (brain scans) and compared it with their diets. The participants were broken into three groups: those who followed traditional Mediterranean diet to a high degree, a moderate degree, or low degree.
The New Yorkers who followed a Mediterranean diet to a high degree had 36% lower risk of brain injuries! Even the moderate followers had a 22% lower risk than those who had the diet least Mediterranean in style. Injuries to brain tissue are associated with age-related declines in memory and cognition.
This is significant news considering 1 in 8 Americans over the age of 65 today has Alzheimer’s disease and this jumps to 1 in 2 after age 85. Further, dementia affects 25% of Americans over the age of 80 and a third of Americans once they hit 90.
Reference: Scarmeas et al, Annals of Neurology, 2011
Wendy Bazilian (www.wendybazilian.com) is a doctor of public health, registered dietitian and freelance writer in San Diego. She is also the Nutrition Advisor at the renowned Golden Door and Co-owner of Bazilian’s Health Clinic with her husband and business partner, Dr. Jason Bazilian. Dr. Wendy is author of The SuperFoodsRx Diet (Rodale).
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