People need to eat food not just to sustain health but also to feel better. Following a healthy diet, coupled with regular exercise, can lead to a better physique so one may also feel confident about how he or she looks. But so much about physical appearance, a new study just found one special type of diet that may help a person to retain mental state despite the natural effects of aging.
The study, which tracked the diet of elderly people, suggests that people should follow a Mediterranean-like diet in order to enjoy greater longevity. Such a diet - consisting more of fish and vegetables, and less of meat and dairy products - is said to be beneficial for the brain as it may reduce the number of brain cells getting damaged from time to time.
The research found that those people who were following a Mediterranean-like diet had much larger brains than people who were not. The difference between the two groups was estimated to be similar to five years of brain shrinkage.
"These results are exciting, as they raise the possibility that people may potentially prevent brain shrinking and the effects of aging on the brain simply by following a healthy diet," says research author Yian Gu, Ph.D., of Columbia University in New York, as quoted in the press release.
Gu and colleagues examined the diets of 674 people with an average age of 80 and did not have dementia. The subjects completed surveys about the food they had been eating over the past year and had their brains scanned seven months after.
The participants were divided into two separate groups depending on their diet's content: one group which followed the Mediterranean diet principles in at least five food components (including greater consumption of healthy food or less amounts of unhealthy foods) and the other having those who did not.
After comparative analysis, researchers found that those people who followed a Mediterranean-style diet had total brain volume that was 13.11 milliliters more than those in the other group. Their gray matter volume and white matter volume were also found 5.0 milliliters and 6.41 milliliters more, respectively.
With these results, although the difference of the brain measures between the two was not so apparent, in terms of brain longevity, researchers claim that the difference was significant, ScienceAlert writes. However, Gu stressed on the idea that their research does not claim that Mediterranean diet is responsible for greater brain volume. It is just that there is an association.
The study appears in the journal Neurology.