The research that could change your mind – literally

It can be difficult to know which advice to follow when it comes to good health, but there’s one thing that just keeps popping up – and now we’re learning that it’s not only good for a healthy body but a healthy brain too.

The Mediterranean diet has long been praised for its health benefits, which include cutting the risk of heart disease, breast cancer and helping to ward off dementia.

But now research has revealed it could actually be a factor in how fast our brain shrinks as we age.

The Telegraph reports a study by Columbia University has revealed that a Mediterranean-style diet could help to preserve brain cells as we age. In fact, it could slow the rate at which the brain shrinks by as much as five years.

The study of 674 people with an average age of 80 showed that those following a Mediterranean-like diet had larger brains.

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Study leader Doctor Yian Gu said these results are exciting, as they raise the possibility that people may potentially prevent brain shrinking and the effects of ageing on the brain simply by following a healthy diet.

But other factors such as exercise and lifestyle could also be playing a part that the researchers don’t yet know about.

Dr James Pickett, head of research at Alzheimer’s Society, said the findings added to the evidence that eating a healthy diet, rich in fish, vegetables, legumes and nuts is good for your brain.

But he also warned that it did not prove the diet was solely responsible for stopping for brain shrinkage .

Dr Laura Phipps, from Alzheimer’s Research UK, agreed: “It’s hard to know from this study what the underlying reason for the link between diet and brain volume might be, and what other factors may be involved.”

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For those unfamiliar with it, the Mediterranean diet is centred around eating the traditional foods and drinks of the countries bordering the Mediterranean.

While the cuisine varies slightly from country to country, all are based on vegetables, fruits, nuts, beans cereal grains, olive oil and fish.

The study was published in the journal Neurology.

Have you tried the Mediterranean diet? How did you find it?