Study finds best diet for brain health out of four tested

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  • 2 months ago

A recent study published in Nature Mental Health explored the relationship between diet patterns and mental health outcomes among more than 180,000 adults in the United Kingdom. Researchers classified individuals into four diet patterns: reduced starch, vegetarian, high protein and low fiber, and balanced. The study found that individuals who followed a balanced diet reported better mental health outcomes and cognitive function compared to those following the other diet patterns.

Interestingly, individuals following a high-protein/low-fiber diet had lower gray matter volumes in a specific part of the brain, while vegetarians had higher gray matter volumes in other brain regions. The study also noted an increased risk of mental health issues among those consuming higher amounts of fruits and vegetables, suggesting the need for further research in this area.

According to Molly Rapozo, a Registered Dietician Nutritionist, diets high in antioxidants, plant-based foods, and low in saturated fats have been associated with improved cognitive function and brain health. Conversely, diets high in saturated fats, sugars, and refined carbohydrates have been linked to decreased cognitive function and brain volume. Rapozo emphasized the importance of a healthy gut microbiome, which can be promoted by diets rich in dietary fiber.

While popular diets like paleo, keto, and Whole 30 have gained attention for their focus on specific nutrients, experts caution against long-term adherence to these restrictive diets. Instead, they recommend a balanced approach that includes a variety of nutrient-dense foods. Rapozo and other experts advise prioritizing plant-based proteins, lean protein sources, and plant fats in one's diet to support brain health.

Overall, the study highlights the importance of a balanced diet in promoting better mental health and cognitive function. While specific diets may have short-term benefits for certain goals, a long-term focus on overall brain health and nutrient variety is essential for optimal cognitive outcomes. Lifestyle factors like sleep quality, exercise, and stress management also play a crucial role in supporting mental health and cognition.


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