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Brain Health: Using the Mediterranean Diet to Fight Aging

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The Mediterranean diet has been recommended as a healthy diet to follow. For example, the Mayo Clinic's website notes that the Mediterranean diet is a heart healthy diet. The Mediterranean diet can also help keep your brain healthy, and may protect the brain during the aging process.

HealthDay News reports that in a new study, 4,000 adults ages 65 and over were given cognitive tests every three years during a 15-year testing period. Because of their ages and the amount of time the testing spanned, aging caused decline in cognitive functions, such as memory. However, participants who followed the Mediterranean diet had less cognitive decline when compared to the other participants.

The Mediterranean diet is more than just food: it also incorporates exercise and beverages. For example, the researchers of the cognitive aging study recommends regular physical activity as part of maintaining healthy cognitive function. Wine, and red wine in particular, is also part of the Mediterranean diet, though people who do not drink alcohol do not need to include this in their diet. The wine contains antioxidants and reduces blood clotting. But to stick to the Mediterranean diet, you cannot drink too much red wine. The Mayo Clinic's website points out that women should not drink more than five ounces of red wine each day.

A large part of the Mediterranean diet is vegetables and fruits. The Mayo Clinic's website notes that the Mediterranean diet lowers levels of oxidized low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, which is the bad cholesterol. You can include nuts in your diet, but only eat a handful. Nuts are high in calories, though hazelnuts, walnuts, almonds and pecans are low in saturated fat. Bread is an important part of the Mediterranean diet as well.

When choosing what oils and fats to include in your diet, olive oil should be the primary source of fat. You should also include omega-3 fatty acids, which lower triglycerides, according to the Mayo Clinic's website. Instead of using salt, substitute herbs. Another aspect of the Mediterranean diet is meat consumption. You should consume less red meat, and instead try for fish once a week, if not twice. Certain fish, like salmon, are omega-3 fatty acid rich and are brain healthy foods.

Diet is just one part in keeping your brain healthy. Keeping your brain active, such as through puzzles, reading and other mental stimulation, can help with your memory as you get older.

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EmpowHER Guest

Does the study take account of the kind of people who eat such a diet? For instance, could it be that people from the Med are genetically predisposed to ageing better, or that the kinds of people who eat the Med diet have less stress in their lives, have better environmental conditions etc?

Also, one should be careful to punt the consumption of high levels of things such as antioxidants - these have NOT, in fact, been proven to be beneficial.

Now, I am not suggesting that this study was poorly conducted, or that the conclusions drawn from it are necessarily incorrect - however, it would always do one well to be skeptical about generalised statements, such as "eat a Med diet" as, often, the studies themselves are flawed, or, as is more often the case, the media have made broad and incorrect extrapolations from studies that show nothing close to what is ultimately fed to the public. In this regard, please start off with: http://www.badscience.net/

May 31, 2010 - 6:27am

i am from north east texas and this is almost the same way as we have eaten for several years. it is a very tastful diet for our region and seems to be healthful for most. if we aren't eating this way, then it's korean foods for us... yummmmmmmmmmmmmmy! and, yes! we still say "ya'll."

May 27, 2010 - 9:19pm

Is this really the Mediterranean diet, or is this just any healthy, well-balanced diet? A lot of the things described in this article seem very general to me and could apply to health diets originating in many different regions of the world.

May 26, 2010 - 8:59am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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