Mediterranean diet helps brain health


OLDER people who don’t follow a “Mediterranean diet” are more likely to have a higher loss of total brain volume over time, new scientific research has found.
A new study published last week (4 January) in the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology gathered information on the eating habits of 967 Scots, aged 70, who did not have dementia.
The results of the study emphasise the positive impact of the Mediterranean diet on the health of the brain, stressing that those who regularly follow it have a healthier brain compared to those who occasionally indulge the diet.
The Mediterranean diet is mainly inspired by the dietary habits of Greece, Southern Italy, and Spain. It includes large consumption of olive oil, legumes, unrefined cereals, fruits, and vegetables, moderate amounts of fish, dairy and wine, and limited red meat and poultry.
According to the study, older people who followed a Mediterranean diet retained more brain volume over a three-year period than those who did not follow the diet as closely.
Michelle Luciano, the leading author of the study, from the University of Edinburgh, stressed, “as we age, the brain shrinks and we lose brain cells which can affect learning and memory”.
“This study adds to the body of evidence that suggests the Mediterranean diet has a positive impact on brain health,” she noted. The researchers also pointed out that contrary to earlier studies, eating more fish and less meat was not related to changes in the brain.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), the Mediterranean diet is widely considered s a healthy dietary pattern as well as a sustainable diet considering its low environmental impact. It is also recognised by UNESCO as an “intangible cultural heritage” of humanity.
However, current data shows that the diet is in decline in the region that gave birth to it, as younger generations appear to be less enthused about its culinary traditions.
A recent report published by the Eurostat pointed out that almost 1 adult in 6 in the EU is considered obese. In the Mediterranean region, the share of obesity was above the EU average (15.9%), except Italy and Cyprus.
Malta recorded the highest level (26%) in the EU and tackling childhood obesity is among the top priorities of the country’s EU Presidency.

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