Nutritionists and medical professionals have long maintained that a proper diet does the body good, but new research at Oregon Health & Science University shows that the right foods may also affect the health of the brain as we age.
Professor Gene Bowman recently produced a study pointing to a connection between the consumption of certain nutrients and brain shrinkage. The research team measured blood levels of B vitamins, in addition to vitamins C, D, E and omega-3 fatty acids, in conjunction with cognitive tests. Those with the highest readings of the beneficial nutrients scored better on the tests and showed less signs of brain shrinkage. Unhealthy food elements, not surprisingly, were found to be potentially harmful.
"Trans fats appeared the most detrimental to cognitive function and brain volume in our study," Bowman told The Oregonian. "Levels of trans fat weren't that high in the blood so it doesn't take that much."
Although caretakers with an elderly relative needing dementia or Alzheimer's care should avoid sudden changes to their loved one's diet, the study adds support to the notion that good nutrition is key at all stages of life.