New Year's Resolution: Keep Your Brain from Shrinking
The typical New Year's resolution is about losing weight. However, there are other aspects of our health that perhaps deserve more attention. One, for instance, is keeping a healthy mind. Alzheimer's disease is a terrible affliction of the mind and it is associated with a shrinking of the brian. A new study which was just published before the New Year suggests brain shrinkage can be avoided if people consume the right diet. The researchers recommend diets with high amounts of omega 3 fatty acids and lots of vitamins B, C, D, and E.
The study was led by Gene Bowman, ND, MPH, of Oregon Health & Science University in Portland. It was published December 28, 2011 online in Neurology ®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.
Bowman's study involved 104 elderly people with an average age of 87. Blood tests were taken to measure the levels of nutrients in their bodies. Also, they all underwent memory and thinking tests. Some of the participants then had MRI scans to measure brain volume.
After the tests, Bowman concluded that there was a significant correlation between nutrients found in the blood and thinking/memory scores, as well as brain size. For the thinking/memory scores, nutrient levels accounted for 17 percent of the variation. For brain size, the nutrient levels accounted for 37 percent of the variation. Other factors that played a role were age, level of education, and high blood pressure.
The nutrients that played the largest role were certain vitamins and omega 3 fatty acids. Vitamin D and the omega 3 fatty acids can be commonly found in fish. Vitamins B and antioxidants C and E are primarily found in fruits and vegetables.
The study also revealed what foods not to eat to avoid brain shrinkage. Subjects whose diets contained high amounts of trans fats were more likely to have brain shrinkage and lower scores in thinking and memory. Trans fats can be commonly found in packaged, fast, fried, and frozen foods. They can also be found in baked goods and margarine spreads.
So when trying to lose weight this year, keep in mind that the brain is a body part where you do not want to lose weight. A diet consisting of high levels vitamins and omega 3 fatty acids should help in both respects.