WRONG idea: Eating healthy “most of the time” for brain health, new study warns

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eating-for-brain-health(NaturalHealth365) Many people try to follow a healthy diet like the Mediterranean diet.  However, sometimes temptations win, and it’s easy to indulge in unhealthy foods, despite eating well most of the time.  Unfortunately, new research shows there’s bad news about having “cheat days.”

Scientists have looked closely at the Mediterranean diet and the health benefits it offers, but they have never dug into what happens when unhealthy foods are included in a mostly healthy diet.  In a new study published in Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association, researchers from Rush University Medical Center set out to uncover answers, and what they found was quite enlightening and disturbing!

The more you “cheat,” the fewer benefits healthy eating offers to your brain, study reveals

Following the Mediterranean diet – or another diet that emphasizes whole grains, fish, fruit, vegetables, and healthy fats, positively affects health.  However, when you cheat on your diet, combining it with unhealthy options like processed meats, fried foods, refined grains, sweets, and red meat, the benefits of your normal healthy diet seem to be diminished.

Since the Mediterranean diet has been linked to lower rates of cognitive decline in aging adults, researchers conducted an observational study on 5,001 aging adults in Chicago.  These individuals were all a part of the Chicago Health and Aging Project, which evaluated cognitive health in older adults between 1993 and 2012.  Participants in the study filled out questionnaires every three years, tested their memory and processing skills, and then weighed in on the foods they consumed.

Rush researchers analyzed how closely these participants stuck with the Mediterranean diet, as well as how often they ate foods from the Western diet like sweets, fried foods, pizza, full-fat dairy, red meats, and refined grains.  They discovered that when study participants added more Western foods, the Mediterranean diet had minimal effect against cognitive decline.

Try your best to stick to your diet to reap MULTIPLE other health benefits

Along with showing the dangers of cheating on your diet, this recent study also complements additional studies on the Mediterranean diet showing that it reduces the risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and some types of cancer.  Some research even shows that sticking with a Mediterranean diet lowers the risk of premature death by as much as 30 percent.

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The bottom line: the more we eat healthy foods like fruits, whole grains, healthy fats, vegetables, and fish, the better it is for the body and brain.  Many studies show that eating processed whole grains, fried foods, and processed meats are associated with cognitive decline, inflammation, and other negative health consequences.  While it doesn’t mean you can never indulge, the key to better health is to avoid cheating as much as possible, sticking to the healthy foods that nourish your body and promote overall health.

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