Inexperienced Mediterranean food regimen can sluggish mind atrophy, Israeli-led examine suggests
Israeli researchers have found that age-related brain atrophy can be slowed down with a green Mediterranean diet high in polyphenols – a type of micronutrient found naturally in plants – and little red and processed meat.
The results of the study were published Tuesday in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
The study was carried out by Prof. Iris Shai and Dr. Alon Kaplan from Ben Gurion University in the Negev together with several international teams of brain experts.
The study enrolled 284 participants, ages 31 to 82 – all employees of the Dimona Nuclear Research Center – who were randomly divided into three groups who would follow a diet based on established guidelines: a healthy diet, a Mediterranean one Diet and a green Mediterranean diet.
Both groups with a Mediterranean diet were also given walnuts, while those with the green Mediterranean diet were given three to four cups of green tea and a shake made from mankai, a water plant. Shai has acted as a consultant for an Israeli company that markets the product.
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All participants had a full brain MRI scan before and after the study. They also received a free gym membership and did physical exercise on a daily basis.
Prof Iris Shai (Dani Machlis / BGU)
The researchers found a significant decrease in age-related brain damage in those who adhered to both forms of the Mediterranean diet, with a greater slowdown in damage observed in the green diet group.
The most significant improvement was seen in participants over the age of 50 – an age group particularly prone to rapid mental atrophy.
Participants who followed these two diets also showed improvements in insulin sensitivity, another example of slowing damage to brain activity.
“The beneficial link between the green Mediterranean diet and age-related neurodegeneration could be explained in part by the abundance of polyphenols in plant-based food sources, which contain antioxidant and anti-inflammatory metabolites,” Shai said in a statement, explaining that the micronutrients reduce and increase inflammation in the brain the brain connectivity.
“Our results could suggest a simple, safe and promising way to slow age-related neurodegeneration by following a green Mediterranean diet,” Kaplan said in the statement.
Shai led similar research that developed a diet that significantly reduced liver fat by tweaking the traditional Mediterranean regimen around special greens.
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