Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Healthy diet keeps brain sharp

Eating a diet rich in certain vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids and low in trans fats can help keeping brain healthy and prevent Alzheimer's disease.

A new US research has found a direct link between healthy diet and slower brain aging and shrinking process in elderly people.

A team of researchers from Oregon Health and Science University studied 104 people with an average age of 87, testing the levels of various nutrients in their blood, as well as their memory and thinking skills.

Findings showed that people whose regular diet contained high amounts of omega 3 fatty acids and levels of C, D, E and B vitamins were less likely to experience brain shrinkage, a natural aging process during the grey matter volume reduces.

People with such a diet also showed on average higher mental performance scores than those with diets low in those nutrients, says the report published in the journal Neurology.

“The combination of the B vitamins, the antioxidants C and E, plus vitamin D was the most favorable combination of nutrients in the blood for healthy brain aging in our population,” said senior author Dr. Gene L. Bowman.

Researchers also found that the most unfavorable diet was the one high in trans fats which are most often found in packaged baked goods and fast foods, including cookies, crackers, and potato chips.

“It is very exciting to think that people could potentially stop their brains from shrinking and keep them sharp by adjusting their diet,” Bowman said.

Omega 3 fatty acids and vitamin D are primarily found in fish, while B vitamins and vitamins C and E can be obtained from meat, fruits and vegetables, scientists noted.