Eating a Healthy Diet May Reduce Brain Shrinkage

People who eat a diet rich in fish, fruits and vegetables but low in meat may lose fewer brain cells as they age, according to a new study.

In the study of 674 older adults, the researchers looked at whether the participants’ diets during the past year included the following nine components of the so-called Mediterranean diet: eating lots of vegetables, legumes, cereals, fish, fruits and nuts; consuming healthy monosaturated fats like olive oil but avoiding saturated fats; drinking moderate amounts of alcohol; and eating low amounts of meat and dairy products. The average age of the people in the study was 80.

The researchers scanned the participants’ brains, and found that those whose diets included at least five of these nine components had brain volumes that measured 13.11 millimeters larger on the scans, on average, compared with the brain volumes of the people whose diets included fewer than five components.
This difference in brain volume between the two groups is equivalent to the amount of shrinkage that happens over five years of aging, the researchers said.

“These results are exciting, as they raise the possibility that people may potentially prevent brain shrinking and the effects of aging on the brain simply by following a healthy diet,” study author Yian Gu, of Columbia University in New York, said in a statement.

When the researchers took a closer look at the relationship between brain shrinkage and the Mediterranean diet, they found that the diet’s protective effect was driven to the greatest extent by two components: eating more fish and eating less meat.

This finding suggests that “eating at least 3 to 5 ounces of fish weekly or eating no more than 3.5 ounces of meat daily may provide considerable protection against loss of brain cells equal to about three to four years of aging,” Gu said. [7 Ways the Mind and Body Change With Age]

None of the people in the new study had dementia. The researchers noted, however, that greater amounts of brain shrinkage have been linkedto a greater risk of cognitive decline.

The new study was observational, and more research is needed to examine the relationship between the Mediterranean diet and brain structure, Gu told Live Science. The new study does not prove that following the Mediterranean diet prevents brain shrinkage; rather, it shows there is a link between the two, she said.

The mechanism between the Mediterranean diet and a greater brain volume is not clear, but it may have something to do with the beneficial effects of nutrients present in the foods, the researchers said. For example, the omega-3 fats as well as vitamins B and D in fish have been shown to promote the growth of neurons and slow brain shrinkage, they said.

The new study was published today (Oct. 21) in the journal Neurology.

Follow Agata Blaszczak-Boxe on Twitter. Follow Live Science@livescience, Facebook & Google+. Originally published on Live Science.

This Is Your Brain on Junk Food

Junk-Food-300x200

We’re not going to tell you junk food is bad for your body (you already know that).

We’re not even going to tell you junk food is bad for your brain (you probably figured as much).

But what you might not know is how junk food is bad for your brain. Turns out, there’s actually quite a lot going on in that head of yours when you fuel your noggin with fatty, sugary foods.

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Chocolate Improves Memory…In Snails!

Can I have a bite?

In the category of “weird news of the day,” it turns out that scientists have discovered a way to study the impact of dark chocolate on memory skills.

But not the memory skills of humans, many of whom would crawl on all fours to be chosen to eat chocolate for the advancement of science. No, the participants selected for this particular study were actually snails.

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Brain into Better Financial Behavior

 

Here’s a scary thought: We use the same part of our brains to think
about our future selves as we do to think about strangers. If our future
selves seem so far away and strange, how can we care about what
happens to them? No wonder so many of us make such poor long-term
financial decisions!
The sad fact is that 40% percent of Americans have no retirement
savings, while another 40% have less than $100,000 saved for future
needs.

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Are Daily Homework Battles Driving You Crazy?

 

 

 Here are 11 Tips to Improve the Homework Experience for You and Your Child


Does your child struggle with homework? Kids who struggle with learning can find homework frustrating and exhausting (as in “tears, excuses, and tantrums” kind of frustrating and exhausting). And of course it only makes things worse when, for struggling students, assignments meant to take twenty minutes can take up to several hours.

Whether you and your child tackle homework immediately after school or a couple hours before bedtime, this kind of recurring routine is exhausting for kids and exhausting for parents, too.

How can you improve the daily homework experience for you and your child? Try following these tips:

Prep yourself 

  • Prepare mentally- Before diving in with your child, take a few minutes to mentally prepare. Decide ahead of time what kind of attitude you’re going to embrace, and how you’re going to respond if things get tense or difficult.

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Introverts and Extroverts Have Different Brains

Where do you get your energy?

Most people think of themselves as either an extrovert or an introvert, and they often think it has to do with how outgoing or shy they are.

And yet introversion and extroversion are actually based on where we get our energy. An easy way to tell if you’re an introvert or an extrovert is to answer this question: After a long week of work, which would you rather do: spend some quiet time alone OR go out with friends? The introverts among us would prefer some alone time, because lots of interaction can be physically and emotionally draining – introverts lose energy through human interaction and need alone time to recharge. Extroverts, on the other hand, gain energy from interacting with others, so at the end of a busy work week, they crave time with friends and loved ones to recharge.

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Fill Your Stomach AND Your Brain!

All natural. Organic. Cage free. Range free. You’ve read the food labels, shelled out a little extra cash for the promise of healthier options, and savored the flavor of your favorite organics. But wait. If the truth were known about wholesome-labeled foods—the 100% real, 100% pure truth—you might find yourself lowering your fork. Or at least rethinking your grocery list.

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