Can A Healthier Diet Prevent Loss of Brain Tissue?

Can A Healthier Diet Prevent Loss of Brain Tissue?

Title: Better diet quality relates to larger brain tissue volumes: The Rotterdam Study

Author: Croll et al

Journal: Neurology (Issue: Volume 90(24), 12 June 2018)

Objective:  To investigate the relation of diet quality with structural brain tissue volumes and focal vascular lesions in a dementia-free population.

Background

Diet and nutrition is a known modifiable risk factor in diseases of the brain including dementia. Small studies have linked healthy diets with brain health and larger brain volumes. Most studies have focused on individual nutritional components such as antioxidants, B vitamins and omega 3 fatty acids. What the authors of this study wanted to do was look at the larger nutritional picture and see what dietary patterns were associated with structural brain volumes in a population of older folks who did not have dementia.

Methods

  • 4,447 participants from the Rotterdam study

  • Underwent dietary assessment and brain MRI (2005-2015)

  • Diet quality score of 0-14 was calculated reflecting adherence to dutch dietary guidelines

  • Associations of diet quality score and separate food groups with brain structures were assessed

  • They accounted for other variables such as high blood pressure, smoking and physical activity

Results

They found that better diet quality related to:

  • Larger brain volume

  • Gray matter volume

  • White matter volume

  • Hippocampal volume

Diet quality was not associated with

  • White matter lesion volume

  • Lacunes

  • Microbleeds

Larger brain volumes were associated with a high intake of the following foods

  • Vegetables

  • Fruit

  • Whole grains

  • Nuts

  • Dairy

  • Fish

  • Low intake of sugar-containing beverages

Conclusions

Essentially, a better diet was associated with larger brain volumes. This was true even when stratifying out for individual foods.

These results directly suggest the significance of nutrition on brain volumes, which in other studies has been linked to better cognitive abilities

However, to draw more firm conclusions about this association, more research is needed over a longer period of time.

Reference

Croll PH, Voortman T, Ikram MA, Franco OH, Schoufour JD, Bos D, Vernooij MW. Better diet quality relates to larger brain tissue volumes: The Rotterdam Study.  Neurology. 2018 Jun 12;90(24):e2166-e2173.

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