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Scientists discover key food nutrients that are linked to slower brain aging

Scientists discover key food nutrients that are linked to slower brain aging

Beneficial nutrient blood biomarkers included a combination of fatty acids and antioxidants.

Experts have revealed there’s a diet featuring various nutrients that are linked to the speed at which our brain ages.

In a new report, published in the Nature Aging journal, researchers from the University of Illinois and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln have worked to establish specific nutrient profiles associated with better cognitive performance in adults over the age of 65.

The newly published study, overseen by Aron Barbey, Professor of Psychology, Neuroscience, and Bioengineering at the University of Illinois, saw scientists taking brain scans of 100 cognitively healthy volunteers, aged between 65 and 75.

Anna Kurzaeva / Anne DEL SOCORRO / Getty
Anna Kurzaeva / Anne DEL SOCORRO / Getty

These scans were mapped against nutritional intake and were used to uncover how specific nutrients affected slower brain ageing.

After volunteers completed a period of fasting, blood plasma was collected and they underwent various cognitive assessments and MRI scans.

Following the rigorous process, the results yielded that two types of brain ageing were present in the participants - accelerated and slower than expected.

Those who experienced the latter had a distinct nutrient profile that wasn’t too dissimilar from the famed Mediterranean or MIND diet.

Previous studies have shown that eating the MIND diet resulted in better cognitive health for females and that it decreased the risk of cognitive decline.

Moreover, researchers found nutrient biomarkers such as fatty acids and antioxidants present in the blood of their 100 volunteers.

Speaking to Nebraska Today about the report, Barbey said: “Our study [identifies] a key nutrient profile that may slow cognitive decline in older adults, offering a promising path towards designing nutritional interventions to promote healthy brain ageing.”

He explained that his team investigated specific nutrient biomarkers, such as fatty acid profiles as they are known in nutritional science to potentially offer health benefits.

Anna Kurzaeva / Anne DEL SOCORRO / Getty
Anna Kurzaeva / Anne DEL SOCORRO / Getty

“This aligns with the extensive body of research in the field demonstrating the positive health effects of the Mediterranean diet, which emphasizes foods rich in these beneficial nutrients.”

He continued to say that the recently-completed study identified ‘nutrient biomarker patterns that are promising’ and that they have ‘favorable accusations’ with brain health and positive cognitive performance.

Furthermore, Professor Barbey said that the results would act as a base to build a more robust understanding of the relationship between cognitive performance and diets.

He claims that his team’s next steps involve conducting randomized controlled trials where specific nutrients will be isolated and administered in the form of nutraceuticals.

“This will allow us to definitively assess whether increasing the levels of these specific nutrient profiles reliably leads to improvements in cognitive test performance and measures of brain structure, function and metabolism,” he added.

You can read the full study, entitled Investigating nutrient biomarkers of healthy brain ageing: a multimodal brain imaging study, at Nature Aging.

Featured Image Credit: Anna Kurzaeva / Anne DEL SOCORRO / Getty