A groundbreaking study and its accompanying research from the journal BMC Medicine certainly supports the hypothesis that you can eat your brain away. This disturbing correlation between the consumption of foods belonging to the Standard American Diet (SAD) and the subsequent reduction of the left hippocampus in the brain is the first human study that associates brain reduction with diet. There was a three-pronged approach to this study. First, researchers evaluated 2,551 Australians ranging in age from 60 through 64 years old, and each individual participating in the study completed a series of evaluations that considered dietary, cognitive, and physical health. Secondly, after four years went by, 2,222 out of the original pool of 2,551 participants completed another series of evaluations, that once again considered their dietary, cognitive, and physical health. Furthermore, 622 out to of the pool of 2.551 participants underwent a brain MRI. The participants who underwent the brain MRI were selected by chance. Interestingly, after analyzing the experimental results, researchers discovered that the left hippocampus of participants who consumed a Standard American Diet (which included consumption of sausages, roasted meats, cheese, hamburgers, steaks, French fries, chips, soda, and processed foods loaded with sugar) was notably smaller than those who refrained from consuming the SAD. Hence, participants who did not consume a traditional Western diet, and instead opted for foods such as whole grains, dark leafy greens, fish, vegetables, and fruits had a larger sized left hippocampus than their SAD consuming counterparts. To preface, recollection, remembrance, reminiscence, impression, the acquisition of knowledge, scholarship, balance in state of mind, and the intensity of feelings of depression are all functions that the left hippocampus regulates. Additionally, as a relevant aside, upon the acquisition of Alzheimer’s disease, the left hippocampus is the first structure of the brain to decline, and this degeneration is then followed by the decline of other areas in the brain. Therefore, the results of this study have also demonstrated the negative implication that the Standard American Diet has upon the contraction of Alzheimer’s disease. Although prior studies have illustrated the effects that stress, inflammation, and other factors have upon the acquisition of disease, this is the first that has illustrated how food choices have the potential to reduce brain size. This suggests that not only physical health, but also mental health, is either promoted or demoted depending upon the food we eat (Cook).
As long time readers of this blog know, I firmly believe that we physically, mentally, and metaphorically become what we eat. However, with this belief also comes an unsettled feeling about the manner in which health and disease is typically dealt with. Rather than advocating for preventative measures and educating the public about the ways in which they can promote their own health, nearly the entire healthcare emphasis focuses on fixing problems after they have already occurred. The solution to a more healthful society is not one that can be compartmentalized. Instead, it is imperative that a holistic approach is taken that addresses not only symptoms of disease but also causes, quells quick-fixes that more often than not result in a whole host of other health complications, and ensures life-long healing. Who’s with me?
Until Next Week… Plan Well, Pack Well, Live Well,
Cook, Michelle. Care 2. Care2.com Incorporated, 2015. Web. 4 October 2015. <http://www.care2.com/greenliving/how-your-diet-may-be-shrinking-your-brain.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+c2greenliving+%28Care2+Healthy+Living%29>