The Mediterranean diet is by far the easiest healthy diet to stick to. The range of foods you can eat is wide, and it’s been proven that it’s more likely you’ll stick to a Mediterranean style of eating than to other diet plans, including paleo and intermittent fasting.
So why not go Mediterranean?
The reasons for switching to this popular diet seem to be almost endless…
- The Mediterranean diet has been proven to be the best eating plan for weight loss…
- It can also help you manage stress (we need that more than ever now!) better…
- Following a Mediterranean diet can help prevent prostate cancer, breast cancer and osteoporosis…
- And of course, it’s the best eating plan there is for heart health!
Now, we’re finding out that eating a Mediterranean diet not only keeps your body young, it keeps your brain young, too. In fact, a simple change in eating habits could give you a strong body and a strong mind, well into old age…
Mediterranean diet keeps aging brains sharp
A team of researchers at the University of Edinburgh examined whether Mediterranean eating could make the brain work better with age.
To do so, they tested the cognitive ability of over 500 people averaging 79 years of age, none of whom showed any signs of dementia.
The tests focused on problem solving, thinking speed, memory, and word knowledge. MRI brain scans of over 350 of the participants were also examined.
After looking at questionnaires that participants filled out, describing their typical diets over the past year, it was clear that those who had eaten a Mediterranean-style diet had better brain function.
This included performance in memory, verbal ability, and visuospatial ability (the ability to analyze and mentally alter objects), with the biggest improvement seen in verbal ability.
Even after adjusting for things like IQ, health, and education, people who’d stuck to the Mediterranean diet showed better brain function.
Nutrients in the Mediterranean diet are the key
The brains of those who stuck to the diet functioned differently, but the MRIs showed no changes in the physical brain itself.
How can this be?
Lona Sandon, a registered dietician nutritionist and professor of nutrition at the University of Texas Southwestern in Dallas, has some hypotheses.
“We could hypothesize that it has something to do with inflammation for one, as well as with other nutrients like magnesium or folate that are found in the leafy greens,” she says.
She also notes that healthy fats, found in fatty fish, nuts and olive oil, help reduce inflammation in the body.
“This helps to protect blood vessels, and it’s not just blood vessels that lead to the heart, but blood vessels that lead to the brain and everywhere else in the body,” she explains.
It’s not too late to save your brain
Janie Corley, who led the University of Edinburgh study, says that changing from a lifelong habit of unhealthy eating, even in your 60s or 70s, can benefit your brain.
“Cognitive decline is a risk factor for dementia, for which there is currently no cure,” Corley says. “Therefore, strategies to prevent or delay cognitive decline, by changes in modifiable lifestyle factors such as diet, are important in terms of public health.”
So, what’s the easiest way to start following the Mediterranean diet?
Here is my guide to getting started, including the mental attitudes that will make it not only easier, but downright enjoyable.
Here’s an article that tells you why extra virgin olive oil is the best thing you can feed your brain.
And, for more help, here are a few recipes you can start with:
Mediterranean sofrito (a great topping for fish or vegetables!)
Editor’s note: While you’re doing all the right things to protect your brain as you age, make sure you don’t make the mistake 38 million Americans do every day — by taking a drug that robs them of an essential brain nutrient! Click here to discover the truth about the Cholesterol Super-Brain!