Healthier diets were associated with larger brain tissue volume in a long-running Dutch cohort study, suggesting that nutrition might affect neurodegeneration through brain structure.
Better overall diet quality was related to larger total brain volume, gray matter, white matter, and hippocampal volume, according to Meike Vernooij, MD, PhD, of the Erasmus University Medical Center in Rotterdam, and colleagues.
These associations were driven by several food groups — vegetables, fruit, nuts, whole grains, dairy, and fish — which contributed differentially to the effect on brain changes, they reported in Neurology.
“People with greater brain volume have been shown in other studies to have better cognitive abilities, so initiatives that help improve diet quality may be a good strategy to maintain thinking skills in older adults,” Vernooij said in a statement. “More research is needed to confirm these results and to examine the pathways through which diet can affect the brain.”