We have previously written about the benefits of the Mediterranean diet, which means a diet containing olive oil, lots of fish, vegetables, fruit and products made from goat’s milk, and less red meat and dairy products. It is known that the diet can reduce the risk of breast cancer and heart disease, but now new research has come up with an additional advantage – it can cause the brain to age more slowly.
With age, the brain shrinks and with it cognitive impairment or brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s occur. The study “Mediterranean diet and brain structure in a multiethnic elderly cohort” has followed 684 people with the average age 80 years and seen that those who largely follow a Mediterranean diet have larger brains than those who did not, a size difference that makes their brains five years younger than their counterparts in aging. “The results are exciting, as it can lead to that there is an opportunity to prevent brain shrinkage and the effects of aging of the brain just by following a healthy diet,” says Yian Gu, epidemiologist at Columbia University and lead author of the report.
A place that has interested researchers in terms of the diet is the Greek island of Ikaria. The majority of the population seems to live to 100 years or more. The island has long been isolated and they have eaten what is available – products that grow in the Mediterranean. It is common to grow food in their own gardens; therefore, the residents eat locally and seasonally based foods. Although it is possible to find Mediterranean delicacies in stores in most countries, Ikaria seems to be a clear example that clean, fresh products that you can find in your surroundings produce the best results. For the aging brain, it seems a good idea to stay amongst the greenery of the Mediterranean.
Source: Diane Kochilas, Ikaria: The Mindful Mediterranean Diet on the Greek Island Where People Forget to Die, The Huffington Post, Alice G. Walton, Mediterranean diet tied to healthier brain, forbes.com, Deborah Netburn, A Mediterranean Diet Could protect your brain from shrinking in old age, the LA Times