A recent study conducted by the Oregon Health & Science University in Portland, USA, has found a direct link between healthy eating and heightened brain function.
“This research suggests that eating healthier foods rich in vitamins B, C, D and E, as well as omega-3 fatty acids, can significantly help to improve brain function and reduce brain shrinkage in older age,” said AUSVEG Senior Communications Officer, Courtney Burger.
AUSVEG is the National Peak Industry Body representing the interests of around 9,000 of Australia’s vegetable and potato growers.
Participants in the study who had higher levels of vitamins in their blood generally performed better on a range of cognitive tests than those with lower levels. Those with lower vitamin levels also demonstrated some brain shrinkage – which is often an early indication of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
Researchers measured the vitamin levels of 104 elderly participants, with an average age of 87 years, and used a range of tests to observe the relationship between nutrition and brain volume. The study then determined the effect this had on key cognitive functions.
“This study indicates that eating foods rich in vitamins can lead to increased brain volume and therefore greater thinking and memory functions in the longer term,” said Miss Burger.
“AUSVEG recommends that people of all ages, particularly those heading into older age, incorporate more fresh fruit and vegetables into their diet, to assist with improved brain function as well as a range of other health benefits in the more immediate term,” said Miss Burger.
“Fresh vegetables are packed with essential vitamins. For instance, snow peas, spinach and mushrooms are a terrific source of vitamin B, while asparagus, broccoli and capsicum all contain high levels of the vitamins C and E,” said Miss Burger.
While genetic and environmental factors were also shown to be important factors in brain volume and function, this latest study has highlighted the role that nutrients can play in brain health.
“The preliminary results from this study are extremely positive – people may be able to sharpen their memory and increase their thinking abilities simply by eating more nutritious foods such as fresh fruit and vegetables.
“It would be good to investigate what partnerships are available between Australian researchers and their American counterparts and identify where studies can be done together in the future.”