A healthy lifestyle fights off killer diseases
A Mediterranean diet with lashings of olive oil can add five years to your llife, research has found. Eating like the Greeks slows the effects of ageing on the brain and helps stave off the onset of mental decline. It is the clearest sign yet that fish, vegetables, fruit, cereals, nuts and oils are the key to health.
The breakthrough study found that older people who followed a Mediterranean diet had a larger brain volume than those who simply ate what they wanted. Experts said the difference was equal to about five years of ageing. Study author Dr. Yian Gu, of Columbia University, New York said: “These results are exciting as they raise the possibility that people may potentially prevent brain shrinking and the effects of ageing on the brain simply by following a healthy diet”.
“When you consider that eating at least five of the recommended diet components has an association comparable to five years of ageing, that is substantial”
The sunshine diet included lots of fish and plant-based foods as well as high levels of fatty acids, such as olive oil and mild to moderate amounts of alcohol.
The results were welcomed by British experts who said adopting a healthy lifestyle could help stave off devastating conditions such as dementia.
The research involved 674 people with an average age of 80 who did not have dementia. They completed a survey about their dietary habits over the past year and had brain scans an average of seven months after the questionaire was completed.
Participants were divided into two groups based on how closely their eating habits followed the Mediterranean style of eating. Those who more closely followed the diet had a total brain volume that was greater than those who did not in terms of both grey and white matter.
Researches said their findings are further proof that you are what you eat, with more fish and plant-based foods associated with less brain shrinkage. The result chime with previous research suggesting damage to white matter may be an early sign of certain types of Alzheimer.
They also fall in line with medical research which shows how eating poor food increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke and dementia.
A key part of the fabled Mediterranean diet is olive oil but polyunsaturated fats found in nuts, seeds and oily fish are crucial too. Experts said that eating at least three to five ounces of fish each week and no more than 3.5 oz of meat a day may play a part in providing “considerable protection against loss of brain cells”.
It comes, as evidence shows, that oxidative stress, the body’s inability to detoxify itself, plays a major role in diminishing mental powers. The brain- boosting foods might also reduce the chance of developing Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, all a range of risk factors for heart disease. Researchers suggest that people who stick to a Mediterranean diet live longer and are less likely to gain weight.
Dr. James Pickett, the head of research at the Alzheimer’s Society charity, said: “There is an increasing amount of evidence that eating a healthy diet, rich in fish, vegetables, legumes and nuts is good for your brain. This study delves further into the potential benefits that diet could have but it does not prove a Mediterranean style diet can stop your brain from shrinking as you age.
“Other key ways to keep your brain healthy are to take as much phisical exercise as you can, stop smoking and keep your blood pressure in check”.
Hilda Hayo, chief executive officer of the charity Dementia UK, said: “We welcome this research. A balanced diet and healthy lifestyle is vital for brain health and could help lower the risk of dementia. But it’s important to remember other risk factors such as gender, genetic predisposition and age cannot be prevented”.
The study was published in Neurology, the medical journal published by the American Academy of Neurology
Reproduced from Daily Express