Diet For Brain Health

Brain Diet

New research looking at people following the Mediterranean diet has been conducted and the results are suggesting that the diet may be able to slow the effects of aging on the brain.

Researchers looked at 684 people with an average age of 80. They were split into two groups: one that followed the Mediterranean diet very closely and another group who did not. At the end of the study, those participants following the Mediterranean diet had a difference in average brain size of 13.11 ml, the equivalent of 5 years of aging. Brains tend to shrink as we age, but those who adhered to the Mediterranean diet had larger brain volumes over time compared to those not on the diet.

Other advantages of the Mediterranean Diet include:

  • Reduced risk of Alzheimer’s
  • Reduced risk of breast cancer
  • Halving the risk of heart disease

More research is being done to verify the how and why of what makes the Mediterranean diet beneficial.

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LA Times “Mediterranean diet may slow aging’s effect on brain” – Deborah Netburn

Diet VS Statins

Statins Vs Diet

Researchers looked at a measurement defined as Number Needed to Treat (NNT) comparing people who used statins (cholesterol lowering drugs) and those on a Mediterranean Diet. NNT is a useful measurement that looks at the estimate of people needed to undergo a treatment in order to prevent one more additional adverse outcome from happening. Researchers also look at the Number Needed to Harm (NNH) to look at the possible side effect risks.


The researchers looked at people on statin drugs for 5 years who had no history of heart disease. The NNT for this group was 104, meaning 104 people would have to take the drug to see one extra person’s heart attack being prevented. NNH was 1 in 50 people who developed diabetes. Also, 1 in 10 people experienced muscle damage (rhabdomyolysis) and undiagnosed muscle pain was not even included in these findings.

When looking at a population of people who have a history of heart disease the NNT was 83 to prevent 1 more death, 39 to prevent 1 more non-fatal attack. The NNH findings were the same for those who had no history of heart disease.

Mediterranean Diet:

Researchers looked at a population in a randomized trail of those who were on the Mediterranean diet for 5 years. They found that the NNT for this group was 61 for prevention of stroke, heart attack, or death. There were NO NNH found for the group on this diet.

For those who have had a heart attack in the past the NNT for those on the diet is 18 for another heart attack, and the NNT for preventing cancer and death was 30.5

Take Home:

What these statistics show is that a Mediterranean Diet is a better choice than statins for prevention of stroke, heart attack, and even death.

If you or someone you know is at risk find out how to get your diet back on track to help prevent these unhealthy outcomes.


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Mediterranean Diet: Part 2

Mediterranean Diet Part 2: Overview

The Mediterranean diet (Med diet) comes from the region around the Mediterranean Sea. The lifestyle and food traditions from this region have been practiced for generations, and are still prevalent today. The Med diet has been researched for its health benefits and has been found to help reduce risks of heart disease, some cancers, diabetes, Parkinson’s , and Alzheimer’s disease. The Med diet is low in added sugars, bleached flour, and other additives, and because of these factors the Med diet can also be considered anti-inflammatory.


Vegetables- Fresh vegetables are a huge part of the Med diet. Raw or slightly cooked drizzled with olive oil is how they are usually prepared. A wide variety of vegetables are used, and this is the base to the meal.

Grains- Whole grains like wheat, oats, and rice are used in the Med diet. The grains are consumed whole with as little processing as possible.

Fruits- whole fresh fruit and no-sugar-added juice is ever present in the Med diet. Fruit is consumed in moderation.

Olive oil- Olives and olive oil are classics in the Med diet. Extra Virgin olive oil is used for cooking, baking, and as dressing on vegetables. Olives and olive oil are beneficial for their good fat content and phytonutrients.

Nuts, beans, legumes, seeds- A good source of healthy fats, fiber, and protein. They can add flavor to dishes, or be used as a quick snack.

Herbs and spices- Used to add flavor and health benefits to dishes while also eliminating the need to add extra fat and salt.

Dairy- cheese and yogurt are used regularly in the Med diet, but only in low to moderate amounts. The dairy is a good source of calcium.

Seafood- fish and shellfish are used in many Med diet dishes. They are great sources of protein and healthy omega-3 fats. These dishes are not fried or battered.

Eggs- Eggs are used for their protein content. They are often utilized in baking.

Meat- Meat is eaten in small portions, usually using lean cuts. Poultry is often used more often than other meats. 90 % lean/10 % fat red meats are used when red meat is consumed.

Wine- Wine is consumed often, but in moderation in the Med diet. People should only consume wine if medically able to do so. 5 ounces a day per women, and 10 ounces a day for men is the approximate amount.

Water- Proper hydration is essential for body type and physical activity. A good measurement is to drink half your body weight (lbs) in ounces (oz) per day.


Other Elements:

Moderation- Eating in a moderate way helps you stay healthy with a balanced diet.

Healthy lifestyle- The Med diet is also accompanied by a lot of daily physical activity. They often walk everywhere they travel, spend time tending their gardens, and even include more strenuous exercising.

Meals with Company- The Med diet includes the belief in enjoyment and pleasure with food and the entire eating experience. Meals and drinks are shared with friends and family whenever possible.


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This information is for educational purposes only. Seek the advice of a health specialist before making any changes to your healthcare.