The brain typically shrinks as people get older. This results in seniors having difficulties in memorizing, thinking, and learning. However, experts say there's a way to prevent shrinking of the brain -- that's by acquiring a Mediterranean diet.
The Mediterranean diet was developed to reflect "food patterns typical of Crete, much of the rest of Greece, and southern Italy in the early 1960s".
It contains a high amount of vegetables, fruits, olive oil, beans and cereal grains, moderate amounts of fish, dairy products, and wine, and only a small amount of red meat and poultry.
For the study, 401 people were followed by researchers in their 70's. They found that those who adhered more closely to Mediterranean diet are less likely to have shrunk brains within three years.
“As we age, the brain shrinks and we lose brain cells, which can affect learning and memory,” says Michelle Luciano, at the University of Edinburgh, UK, who led the study in an interview
. “This study adds to the body of evidence that suggests the Mediterranean diet has a positive impact on brain health.”
Participants' brain activity was monitored using brain scans. While, statistical analysis showed that simply eating more fish and less meat didn't slow down brain shrinkage. Meaning, only adhering to a proper Meditteranean diet showed positive results for brain health.
“While the study points to diet having a small effect on changes in brain size, it didn’t look at the effect on risk of dementia,” says David Reynolds, at the charity Alzheimer’s Research UK
. “We would need to see follow-up studies in order to investigate any potential protective effects against problems with memory and thinking.”