A ‘profound’ connection between what you eat and brain power has been discovered

COVENTRY, United KingdomA healthy diet benefits the brain in more ways than you might think. According to researchers at the University of Warwick, there is a “profound” link between a person’s dietary choices and their brain health. More specifically, this latest research found that a healthy, balanced diet contributes to superior brain health, cognitive function, and mental well-being.

The researchers looked at dietary choices among a large group of 181,990 UK Biobank participants and also carried out numerous physical assessments, including cognitive function, blood metabolic biomarkers, brain imaging and genetics. This process led to new insights into the relationship between nutrition and overall well-being.

The team collected each participant’s food preferences using an online survey, which the researchers classified into 10 groups (alcohol, fruits, meats, etc.). Then, a form of artificial intelligence called machine learning helped the researchers analyze the large data set.

A balanced diet showed an association with stronger mental health, better cognitive functioning and even greater levels of gray matter in the brain (which is linked to intelligence) compared to others with a less healthy diet.

This work, published in the magazine Nature Mental Health, also highlights the need for gradual dietary modifications, especially for people who have become accustomed to very pleasant foods but with nutritional deficiencies; simply put, people who love tasty junk food over healthier options. Using a slow reduction in sugar and fat intake over time, the hope is that people will naturally gravitate towards healthier food choices.

A more balanced diet showed an association with stronger mental health, better cognitive functioning and even greater levels of gray matter in the brain, compared to eating tastier junk food. (Juliaap – stock.adobe.com)

The researchers note that genetic factors may also play a role in the association between diet and brain health, showing how a combination of genetic predispositions and lifestyle choices shape well-being. Professor Jianfeng Feng from the University of Warwick stresses the importance of establishing healthy food preferences as early as possible in life.

Developing a healthy and balanced diet from an early age is crucial for healthy growth. To encourage the development of a healthy, balanced diet, both families and schools should provide a wide range of nutritious meals and cultivate an environment that supports their physical and mental health, Feng says in a news release.

Meanwhile, regarding the wider implications of this research project, Prof. Feng emphasizes the role of public policy in promoting accessible and affordable healthy food options.

Since dietary choices can be influenced by socioeconomic status, it is crucial to ensure that this does not hinder people from adopting a healthy and balanced dietary profile, says the study’s lead author. Implementing affordable, nutritious food policies is essential for governments to empower the general public to make informed and healthier dietary choices, thereby promoting overall public health.

Our findings underscore the associations between dietary patterns and brain health, calling for concerted efforts to promote nutritional awareness and foster healthier eating habits in diverse populations, adds study co-author Wei Cheng of Fudan University.

This exciting research further shows that a poor diet affects not only our physical health, but also our mental and brain health. This study supports the need for urgent government action to optimize the health of our children, protecting future generations. We also hope that this will provide more evidence to motivate us to make better lifestyle choices, improve our health and reduce our risk of developing chronic diseases, concludes Dr Richard Pemberton, Certified Lifestyle Physician at Hexagon Health. who did not participate in the study.

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Image Source : studyfinds.org

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