Mediterranean Diet Has Potential to Reduce Brain Shrinkage

As part of a broader approach to brain health, the Cognitive Therapeutics Method recommends a Mediterranean diet which has been known to improve cognitive health. The Mediterranean diet consists of fruits, vegetables, beans, unrefined grains and fish, along with a moderate consumption of wine. Now, a recent study published in the journal Neurology has found further evidence of the benefits of a Mediterranean diet.

The study involved 674 male and female participants with an average age of 80 years old. Participants were given questionnaires on their general diet throughout the previous year. Seven months later, participants had their brains scanned to determine brain volume. Based on the answers to their questionnaires and how closely they had followed the Mediterranean diet, the participants were divided into two groups: those that had followed at least five of the diet’s principles and those that had followed four or less principles.

mediterranean dietThe nine principles of the diet tracked in this study were:

A high intake of:

  1. Vegetables
  2. Legumes
  3. Fruits/Nuts
  4. Cereals (Unrefined, Whole Grains)
  5. Fish and Monounsaturated Fats (Olive Oil, Avocado, etc.)

A low intake of:

  1. Saturated Fats
  2. Dairy Products
  3. Meat and Poultry
  4. Alcohol (Mild to Moderate Intake)

The group that followed five or more of the above principles had higher total brain volumes than those who followed the diet less closely, totaling about 5.0 milliliters higher gray matter volume and 6.41 milliliters higher white matter volume. Because specific parts of the brain shrink as a normal part of aging, this difference in volumes is equivalent to two average people who are five years apart in age. Gray matter is responsible for key brain functions involving muscle control and sensory perception, while white matter is involved in nerve signaling.

Researchers, cognitive neurologists and other professionals in the field of brain health are increasingly advocating for the Mediterranean diet due to its benefits being consistent and reliable across different populations. Many believe the diet has the potential to lower the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, as well as slow the onset and progression of symptoms.

To learn more about healthy eating and other tips recommended by the Cognitive Therapeutics Method, please visit