Western Diet Linked to Smaller Brain Size

Over the years, we have seen that what you eat can seriously impact your brain health and function. Many studies have found connections between a western diet (one that that is high in fatty foods, refined grains, dairy, sugary drinks, and processed meats) and such brain disorders as ADHD, anxiety and depression.

Studies have further shown that your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease decreases when you opt out of a western approach and adopt a more Mediterranean based diet- one that is lower in processed meats and processed carbohydrates, and higher in foods like olive oil, vegetables and fish.

Now, a study released this month in BMC Medicine reveals just how huge the impact of a western diet is on the anatomy of the brain itself. Australian researchers studied the diets of 255 subjects between 60 – 64 years of age and discovered by MRI scan that those who ate a western diet had smaller left hippocampi than those who ate a more nutrient-rich diet.

The hippocampus is an important part of the brain located under the cerebral cortex that plays a vital role in spatial navigation and in the transferring of information from short-term memory to long-term memory (key areas that are shrunken in those with alzheimer’s disease).

The researchers of the study reported that these connections between diet type and hippocampus size were “independent of [such things as] age, gender, education, labour-force status, depressive symptoms and medication, physical activity, smoking, hypertension and diabetes.”

This study shows in a very real and tangible way just what an effect food has on the health and development of the brain. The more junk we eat, the less developed our hippocampus will be – possibly paving the way for future brain disorders.

This is why it is so important to eat to support brain health. Dr. Perlmutter speaks of this in his books, Brain Maker and Grain Brain (absolute must-reads if you haven’t yet read them).

Dr. Perlmutter’s book, Grain Brain lists foods to avoid and foods to eat to support brain health and function. >> Click Here for both lists.

As vital as this information is to our own health, it is doubly important to consider when supporting the health and growth of our children’s ever developing minds.

We only have one mind… why not optimize it?



“Does junk food shrink your brain?” medicalnewstoday.com . Sept 11, 2015.

“Grain Brain by David Perlmuter MD (2013): Brain Health Food List.” www.chewfo.com . Sept 30, 2013.

“Hippocampus.” Wikipedia.org.

“Western diet is associated with a smaller hippocampus: a longitudinal investigation.” BMC Medicine. 2015, 13:215 doi: 10.1186/s12916-015-0461-x



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