The journal Neurology reports that the proper diet seems to help prevent age-related brain shrinkage and cognitive decline.
From the press release:
People with diets high in several vitamins or in omega 3 fatty acids are less likely to have the brain shrinkage associated with Alzheimer’s disease than people whose diets are not high in those nutrients, according to a new study published in the December 28, 2011, online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.
Those with diets high in omega 3 fatty acids and in vitamins C, D, E and the B vitamins also had higher scores on mental thinking tests than people with diets low in those nutrients. These omega 3 fatty acids and vitamin D are primarily found in fish. The B vitamins and antioxidants C and E are primarily found in fruits and vegetables.
So the dietary pattern linked to preservation of brain size and function in this study is: high omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins B, C, D, and E. I don’t know if study participants were getting these nutrients from supplements or from food or a combination. (I haven’t read the full article.)
To find foods high in the aforementioned nutrients, you can use NutritionData’s Nutrient Search Tool.
Note that the time-honored Mediterranean diet is also associated with lower rates of dementia and slower rate of age-related mental decline.
I previously reported that a supplement cocktail of three B vitamins slowed the rate of brain shrinkage.
Reference: Bowman, G.L., et al. Nutrient biomarker patterns, cognitive function, and MRI measures of brain aging. Neurology. doi: 10.1212/WNL.0b013e3182436598
h/t to Randall Parker at FuturePundit