Australian researchers may have just made the first concrete connection between junk food consumption and brain size.
The new study, published yesterday, has found that those with unhealthy diets have measurably smaller brains; yet another incentive to recognise the awful impact bad food can have on our health, particularly past the age of 60.
Associate Professor Felice Jacka, told the ABC that the hippocampus (the brain’s “filing cabinet”) naturally gets smaller over age.
“And the difference we found between people with good diets and people with poor diets in terms of their left hippocampal volume… it counted for about 60 per cent of that aged related decline. So you know, it’s a not insubstantial amount”.
She likened eating bad food to giving your car bad fuel. “If you put into your car petrol that is dirty or watered down you’re really not going to get the best outcome from your car. In the same way the food that we put in our mouths needs to be of the best quality”.
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According to Deakin University’s report, Associate Professor Jacka has also suggested these findings have relevance for dementia and mental health.
“Mental disorders account for the leading cause of disability worldwide, while rates of dementia are increasing as the population ages,” she said.
“Recent research has established that diet and nutrition are related to the risk for depression, anxiety and dementia, however, until now it was not clear how diet might exert an influence on mental health and cognition.
“This latest study sheds light on at least one of the pathways by which eating an unhealthy diet may influence the risk for dementia, cognitive decline and mental disorders such as depression and anxiety in older people.
“However, it also points to the importance of diet for brain health in other age groups. As the hippocampus is critical to learning and memory throughout life, as well as being a key part of the brain involved in mental health, this study underscores the importance of good nutrition for children, adolescents and adults of all ages”.
Are you surprised by these findings? Do they make you rethink your diet?