Diet For A Bigger Brain, Can Nutrition Conquer Time?:
Two of the big problems we all face are what to do now and how to make sure we don’t compromise our future.
One big part of that we talk about here is Nutrition. Another is Brain Fitness.
And the fact-of-the-matter is you have to keep eating right and exercising not only for your waistline, but for Your Brain, too.
That’s because our brains start shrinking after the age of 30.
So, a crafty team of Dutch Researchers took some time off from being generally-insane-Dutchmen to find out if there was anything Nutrition could do to help…
You Really Do Lose Some Of Your Marbles:
So yes, it is really true. If brain-cells were the proverbial marbles, yes you do lose them as time goes by.
We still don’t know all the reasons why, as brain volume stops increasing in females at about Age 9 and males at about Age 15.
So the real solution to keeping it high is still out there.
But to see if we could at least find a starting-point, a team from Erasmus University in Rotterdam decided to see if a solution was evident in people who are already doing well.
And to that end, they rounded up about 4000 volunteers with an average age of about 67 and tracked their diets (through self-reported surveys).
The MRI Scans Show It:
And while these people were not given any cognitive-agility or IQ-tests, they did go through an interesting evaluation that was not self-reported.
They all had their brains scanned in MRI machines.
Not to Manchurian Candidate them into Facebook’s increasing database of surveillance-evil,
But to test against that progresive-problem of the incredible shrinking brain!
Because as you lose size, you lose power.
So one of the healthiest all-around diets we know about is The Mediterranean Diet.
Mediterranean Diet To The Rescue! In Holland?:
With its emphasis on Fish, Nuts, Vegetables, Fruits, small amounts of Dairy, and that health-superfood, The Monounsaturated-Monster: Olive Oil; it’s considered one of the best.
And guess what?
True to form, the Mediterranean Diet was associated with the greatest brain-volumes in the subjects. (in a slightly Dutchified version, because:Holland)
And this was higher by 2ml.
-Which doesn’t sound like much.
Except when you consider that the average aging rate of a brain at that phase of life is about twice that each year.
So given they adjusted for all kinds of factors,
Even considering things like Physical Activity in their quest to find the diet-connection,
Even When Adjusted For Other Factors, Diet Is Correlated With A Bigger Brain:
It’s pretty impressive that just on face-value, the subjects had brains that were 6 Months Younger at the minimum, than their less conscientious counterparts.
Those people consumed more sugar, refined-carbohydrates, red meats and saturated-fats on-average than the Dutchies eating closer to Med-Style.
But it gets even better than that!
They didn’t just have any-old brain-matter differences.
2 More Functional Types + 1 Special One:
Study subjects had:
1) More Gray-matter,
2) More White-matter (which acts like a high-speed connection between regions)
3) More volume in the center of the brain, which is responsible for:
a) Connecting Both Halves
b) Stronger Memory
So although the subjects weren’t given cognitive evaluations, you can at least put a reasonable wager that they would have done better, and remembered more.
This savings of 2ml also means that depending on age, the subjects with the better diets had:
1) 0.2%+ more brain-matter,
2) Which equals 200 Million more neurons
3) As many as 2 Billion more connections as a result
A Little Bit Goes A Long Way:
Now 0.2% may not sound like a lot, but depending on where they are in the brain, the difference could be huge;
Especially if the increase is mostly in the brain’s memory-center.
Also, this savings % might actually be higher, because people at the age of 67 will have experienced some loss of brain-matter since their early peak.
This can be as much as a 10% loss in brain volume versus their 20-year-old selves, and at a normal rate of loss that ramps-up to .45%/yearafter the age of 40.
So in that light, every single little bit might help!
It’s A Best-Guess, For Now:
Although they did what they could to control for other variables, the study authors remind us that correlation does not necessarily guarantee causation. In many cases, it sure doesn’t.
But if you expand-out what other dietary-inputs might mean for the whole system, like our friend Dr. Neal Barnard,
Especially if you consider that sugars, saturated fats, and red meat can all result in obesity, screwed-up hormone-profiles, reduced circulation, and even inflammation.
And not just in the body, but in the brain if Dr. Neal is right about excess Iron,
Then maybe there really is a possibility that diet itself can help keep your brain healthy and as large as possible throughout life.
I mean, if Sandrine Thuret can outline at least a few nutrition factors that are neurotoxic,
Then maybe our Dutch friends really are onto something about a specific diet for a bigger brain!
Photo Credits: “Power plant 1”, by Alexander Khodarev
• Source: Time
• Source Study: J.Neurology – Better diet quality relates to larger brain tissue volumes The Rotterdam Study