Could there be one more reason to start eating a better diet?
A new study published in Neurology suggests that people who eat healthy diets may have larger brain volumes.
The study asked more than 4,000 older people in the Netherlands (average age: 66) about what they ate and analyzed brain scans over 10 years.
People who ate healthier diets (rich in fruits, vegetables, quality proteins and healthy fats from sources like fish) showed larger total brain volume. They also had more grey and white matter, which is a way of measuring the amount of nerve density in the brain. The area of the brain that’s responsible for processing memories, called the hippocampus, was also larger in people who ate healthier.
The team also looked to explore whether or not there were any ‘super foods’ responsible for the results (haven’t we all read an article or two on that topic!). The results showed that it was in fact a combined effect of eating more fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and fish seemed to contribute to larger brain volume, rather than specific foods.
The researchers also found that people who drank fewer sugar sweetened drinks like specialty coffees and pop, also had larger brain volumes.
While the study did not delve into whether diet could change brain volumes or affect brain function, Vernooij and Pauline Croll, a co-author on the paper and a PhD student in epidemiology and radiology at Erasmus, believe the findings could lead to new research on how diet could affect brain disorders. “I do think these results open up a lot of opportunities,” says Croll. “It’s already known that a healthy diet is associated with better brain health, and that it is protective against neurodegeneration.
So yes, an improved diet will help you feel better, lose weight and improve your performance AND will also improve your brain health – just another reason to ditch the packaged products and stick with the best option for your health – real food!