- Brain health is an essential part of health and well-being. The brain aging faster than the rest of the body may be linked to several conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease.
- A study found that weight reduction can help improve brain aging. Specific dietary interventions, including the Mediterranean Diet and the Green Mediterranean Diet, benefited study participants.
- People interested in helpful dietary interventions can seek help from appropriate nutrition specialists.
Brain aging may have important clinical implications. Researchers continue to seek to understand how brain aging affects health and how lifestyle interventions can slow brain aging.
A study published in eLife looked at how losing weight can help slow brain aging.
The researchers looked at three diets in obese people:
- follow a healthy diet
- the Mediterranean diet
- THE green mediterranean diet.
Researchers found that weight reduction in participants was associated with slower rates of brain aging. The results indicate the importance of maintaining a healthy weight and its impact on brain age.
The brain is an essential organ of the body, so its well-being is essential for the proper functioning of the rest of the body. Age affects brain function, resulting in some natural declines.
However, lifestyle interventions may help with brain health and function. Some research supports that healthy eating and physical activity can help brain function.
Dr. Brett Osbornboard-certified neurosurgeon, physician and president and founder of the Senolytix medical weight loss clinic, not involved in the study, explained to Medical News Today:
“The term ‘brain aging’ refers to the natural process of changes that occur in the brain as a person ages. It is a normal part of the aging process and is characterized by a gradual decline in various cognitive functions. The brain, no different from any other organ at the basic level, is susceptible to free radical (oxidative) damage and therefore aging. As the damage accumulates, and this occurs at varying rates depending on a host of primarily environmental factors, cognitive function declines and the risk of neurological impairment increases.
The researchers in the current study explain that estimating a person’s brain age involves comparing a person’s brain to the brain of a healthy control group.
Brain age above chronological age is associated with several conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease, mild cognitive impairment, and even a higher mortality rate.
Researchers continue to seek to understand how lifestyle interventions can slow brain aging.
In this study, the researchers wanted to investigate the impact of weight loss on brain aging. The researchers included 102 obese participants. The participants were part of the Dietary Intervention Randomized Controlled Trial Polyphenols Unprocessed Study.
All participants engaged in physical activity and followed one of three specific diets: a diet following healthy dietary guidelines, the Mediterranean diet, or a green Mediterranean diet. The lifestyle interventions lasted 18 months.
The Green Mediterranean Diet is similar to the Mediterranean Diet, which emphasizes many plant-based food sources and moderate amounts of animal protein.
Unlike more traditional versions of the Mediterranean diet, the green Mediterranean diet contains even more plant-based foods, as well as green tea and the aquatic plant Wolffia globosa or Mankai, also known as “duckweed”.
Kailey Proctor, Board Registered Dietitian of the Orange County City of Hope Lennar Foundation Cancer Center in Irvine, Calif., explained that, “The Green Mediterranean Diet emphasizes plant-based protein and eliminates red meats and processed meats. Think of it as a ‘light vegetarian’ type of diet.
In the current study, the researchers found that weight loss was associated with slower rates of brain aging. They also found that eating fewer processed foods and sweets was associated with reduced brain aging.
Principal author of the study Dr. Gidon Levakovformer postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Cognitive and Brain Sciences at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, explained the key findings of the study to DTM.
“Our research revealed several key findings. First, we observed that a lifestyle intervention in obese people led to a reduction in brain aging,” he told us.
“Specifically, we found that a 1% reduction in body weight caused participants’ brains to appear almost 9 months younger than expected after 18 months. Additionally, these improvements in brain aging were associated with positive changes in other biological measures, such as decreased liver fat and liver enzymes,” Dr. Levakov noted.
The results indicate that weight loss interventions may provide some people with cognitive and physical benefits. Dr. Osborn then commented on his thoughts on the study results:
“The study results are not surprising, as the brain – and all other tissues – undergo accelerated aging against the backdrop of high levels of bodily inflammation, pathognomonic for obese body type. This is one of the many reasons why almost all age-related diseases (i.e. cancer, diabetes, coronary heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease) occur at a much higher incidence. high in the obese population.
The study also has some important limitations. First, it cannot prove that losing weight or following a specific diet directly leads to improved brain aging.
Second, the study only included a small number of participants, with an unequal number of men and women, which makes it risky to generalize the results. Researchers also had to rely on participants’ self-reporting of diet, which may increase the risk of some inaccuracies.
The study focused on a specific subpopulation that included people who were obese and had abnormal lipid levels. Therefore, the results do not necessarily reflect how the intervention would help the general population.
The study also lacked a control group, which limits the study results. Future studies may include more diverse samples with a longer follow-up period.
Dr. Levakov noted that:
“Exploring the long-term effects of lifestyle interventions on brain aging and studying which specific components of these interventions contribute most to the observed improvements are important avenues for future research. Additionally, the generalizability of our findings should be assessed by studying individuals with different levels of obesity and diverse populations.
Research has indicated that specific diets, including the Green Mediterranean Diet, may be particularly beneficial for brain aging and health.
However, Dr. Levakov pointed out, “We found a beneficial effect of weight loss on brain age attenuation regardless of intervention group. Therefore, our finding cannot determine whether one type of diet was superior to the others.
Nonetheless, the study authors note that previous research has linked eating a Mediterranean diet to increased levels of gray matter in the brain and improvements in cardiometabolic health.
Some people may benefit from a Mediterranean or Green Mediterranean diet. Proctor offered the following advice to DTM:
“The plant-based foods of a green Mediterranean diet were selected because they are rich in healthy polyphenols and contain many that you can already eat and enjoy, such as green tea and nuts (…) Essential elements of the Green Mediterranean Diet are careful to balance plant and animal protein, eliminate red meat and processed meat, and limit daily calorie intake.Your doctor or registered dietitian nutritionist can help you understand the benefits, restrictions and the way forward.