If you ask the average person why they are on a diet or trying to eat clean, they will most likely refer to a desire to shrink their waistlines or lower their cholesterol. These days however, scientists are suggesting you eat healthy for another reason: brain health. Not just your average healthy mind, but a healthy diet may be able to prevent brain disease. So does eating less calories help prevent brain diseases such as dementia? Will turning towards vegetables prevent the chance of you having a stroke?
Best Health Nutritionals suggested that eating healthy led to better memory as you grow older. Their studies looked at 1,200 seniors between the ages of 78 and 89 years old. The group was divided into the amount of calories they consumed averagely and the group who consumed the most was found to be twice as likely to develop mild cognitive impairment. No mechanism for these findings was provided and one study with 1,200 participants could have produced these results by chance or as a false positive. There could also be a third confounding variable such as a genetic component such as a faster metabolism.
Researcher Mark Mattson also tested this idea on mice. According to The Slate, Mattson noticed that the mice in his lab became large and lethargic as they consumed more than the average mouse and moved less. Mattson then began restricting the food of some of the mice and eventually ran an experiment where he induced strokes in mice on diets and mice that were not restricted. The mice that were on a diet demonstrated that the post stroke brain damage was significantly reduced compared to the larger mice.
A suggested mechanism by Harvard Health Publications is that unhealthy foods not only creates cholesterol build-up in the arteries and damages the heart, but can also really hurt your brain. The formation of Beta-amyloid plaques, which are the cause for the brain damage found during Alzheimer’s, are sped up by fatty diets.
Take Home Message: So how should we as young people look at the suggestion that an unhealthy diets can lead to eventual brain damage? Well there are lists of why choosing vegetables over pizza is better for you. Obviously you can still treat yourself, but trying to keep a balanced diet will not only boost you energy and improve heart health, but also lead to a healthier and sharper brain in the long run.