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Mediterranean Meals May Reduce Speed of Brain Aging

Eating foods and meals based on a Mediterranean diet has recently become popular, but studies show that this eating style could also be saving your life and reducing your brain age. These foods tend to be high in plant based ingredients and include a lot of sea life. Fruits, nuts, fish, shellfish, and vegetables replace a lot of the fatty meats and dairy products used in cooking in North America. While Mediterranean meals do include fats, these are healthier oils such as olive oil.

Other studies regarding this style of eating have proven that the ingredients used in Mediterranean cooking can increase the health of the gut, and reduce the chances of breast cancer in women and men.

Slowing Down The Clock

It is no secret that you are what you eat in terms of health, and this of course includes your brain. The foods that you use to power your body each day also contribute to the vitamins and nutrients which reach your brain and keep you thinking clearly. Over time your brain will shrink naturally, similar to your height and other factors, but recent research suggests that Mediterranean cooking might slow this process down. Forbes advises: “A new study in Neurology finds that for older people who stick more closely to a Mediterranean diet, their brains are a tiny bit more voluminous than people who don’t eat it. Everyone experiences brain shrinkage with age, so the idea that a particular diet may help offset this process is very good news. And since previous studies have found that keeping with a Mediterranean diet can also keep an aging individual years younger, cognitively speaking, the study may be especially good news.”

This may be encouragement enough for some to switch diets, but others may be hoping for more good reasons to put down the steak and pick up the salmon. The diet has also been linked to a slimmer waistline and for some men and women, healthier skin and hair.

Checking The Facts

One of the more recent studies, which was led by a Dr. Gu split groups into two sections. The difference in brain mass following the study showed that those who followed the Mediterranean diet had brains that looked 5 years younger in terms of size than those who followed other dietary structures. Medical News Today states: “Compared with participants who did not follow a Mediterranean-style diet, those who followed at least five components of the diet had a total brain volume that was around 13.11 mm larger; the gray matter volume of these subjects was 5 mm larger, while their white matter volume was 6.41 mm larger.”

This means that those who did not follow a Mediterranean style diet saw brain shrinkage of 5 more years’ worth than those who did. As the human body ages, those 5 years can make a big impact on the type of memory span and brain function available.

How The Mediterranean Diet Impacts Your Life

The change in brain size and age are only one of the recent effects recently noted in regards to this lifestyle. A study published in the British Medical Journal sites Mediterranean ingredients as being able to reduce susceptibility to a number of chronic illnesses due to their high level of antioxidants. Antioxidants are known for their ability to lower inflammation. This can be quite essential to better heart health and a lowered risk for obesity. Live Science reports: “The mechanism between the Mediterranean diet and a greater brain volume is not clear, but it may have something to do with the beneficial effects of nutrients present in the foods, the researchers said. For example, the omega-3 fats as well as Vitamins B and D in fish have been shown to promote the growth of neurons and slow brain shrinkage.”

Another benefit of diets high in Mediterranean style ingredients is a lower risk for depression. A study which was released just this year advised that eating healthy fats such as the olive oil used in this diet type, combined with plant based ingredients can help reduce and even treat depression.

Although Mediterranean style eating has shown promise in a multitude of health related issues, you don’t have to eat foods specifically from this region to be healthy. Rather, the point of these studies was to see whether or not certain ingredients were beneficial. Eating more fish, less red meat, more vegetables, less dairy, and more fruit over sugary simple carb desserts can help increase the same level of vitamins, nutrients and antioxidants as if you ate Mediterranean meals.

Healthy Alternatives

If you are interested in learning more about what foods you can eat more of to increase your health and decrease weight, aging, and risks of illness, speak to your doctor or a nutritionist about building a nutrition plan which works for you. You may find that your style of eating already includes many beneficial ingredients, or you could come to realize that you don’t have nearly enough.

Before making any drastic changes to your dietary or supplement intake, it is encouraged that individuals speak to a medical professional regarding these choices. If you suffer from diabetes or other illnesses which require specific eating plans, it may not be optimal to change your nutritional habits or increase your intake of fruit or other foods high in natural sugars. Your doctor will be able to lead you in a direction which safely allows you to try the Mediterranean eating style without risk.

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