New Study Suggests a Specific Diet Can Boost Brain Power

Written by Camilla Jessen

May.03 - 2024 5:30 PM CET

Researchers have discovered that certain diets can enhance brain function and potentially increase intelligence.

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Researchers have identified a specific type of diet that not only stimulates the brain but might also enhance human intelligence.

Most are familiar with the concept of "brain food," which collectively refers to foods that positively impact the brain.

Now, a group of researchers has dug deeper and proposed specific dietary changes that could maximize cognitive abilities.

The study, published in Nature Mental Health, systematically reviewed dietary habits and found certain foods that positively impact cognitive functions and increase gray matter in the brain — a key area associated with intelligence.

In-Depth Analysis of Dietary Habits

Professor Jiangfeng Feng of the University of Warwick, England, led the research, which involved analyzing the dietary patterns of 181,990 men and women from the UK Biobank — a comprehensive database containing health information on half a million UK residents.

The study examined participants' diet choices and their correlations with various health metrics, including physical evaluations, cognitive functions, blood tests, brain scans, and genetic data.

Participants' food choices were recorded via online questionnaires and categorized into groups like fruits, fish, meats, vegetables, and more.

Dietary habits were further broken down into four categories: diets without or with very little starch, vegetarian diets, high-protein and low-fiber diets, and balanced diets. The researchers employed machine learning to sift through the massive dataset.

Their findings indicated that those who adhered to a balanced diet exhibited better mental health and superior cognitive abilities compared to those on other diets.

The most beneficial diet included a varied intake of vegetables, fruits, cereals, nuts, seeds, legumes, eggs, fish, and a moderate amount of dairy.

Healthy Eating Made Accessible

The researchers stress the importance of starting a healthy, balanced diet early in life.

They also mention that for many, dietary changes are necessary, especially for those fond of tasty but nutritionally inadequate foods. By gradually reducing sugar and fat intake, individuals might naturally shift towards healthier food choices, they speculate.

However, Professor Feng pointed out a challenge for policymakers: making healthy foods cheaper and more accessible.

"Since dietary choices may have something to do with one's socio-economic status, it is important to ensure that this does not limit people's opportunities to opt for a healthy and varied diet," says Professor Feng.

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