Unhealthy Diet May Shrink the Brain
Written by Editor   
Tuesday, October 27, 2015 10:02 AM

Consumption of an unhealthy Western diet characterized by meat, hamburgers, chips, and soft drinks, may reduce the volume of the left hippocampus, whereas a healthy diet of fresh vegetables and fish may increase hippocampal volume.

In a study of more than 250 individuals, investigators found that during a period of 4 years, there was a difference of more than 200 cubic millimeters in hippocampal volume between individuals who ate a healthy diet and those who consumed an unhealthy diet.

"These findings suggest the potential for dietary interventions to promote hippocampal health, decrease age-related atrophy, and prevent negative health outcomes associated with hippocampal atrophy," they add.

Previous studies have shown that quality of diet is associated with depression and cognitive health. Animal research indicates that this may be mediated by changes in the hippocampus.

Specifically, a high-fat diet reduces brain-derived neurotrophic factor levels, which impairs neuronal plasticity, learning, and behavior.

For the current study, the researchers examined data from the Personality and Total Health Through Life Study on 255 individuals aged 60 to 64 years at baseline who had completed the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation Food Frequency Questionnaire.

Participants were classified as consuming either a "prudent/healthy diet," consisting of fresh vegetables, salad, fruit, and grilled fish, or a "Western/unhealthy diet," consisting of roast meat, sausages, hamburgers, steak, chips, crisps, and soft drinks. 

Source: http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/851343