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You can’t cheat on a healthy diet

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You can’t cheat on a healthy diet

When it comes to eating a healthy diet, you never really can cheat. Having the occasional pizza undoes the benefits of following a diet such as the Mediterranean, researchers have discovered.

The more closely you follow the Mediterranean diet—and stick with it—the healthier you are likely to be, and you’ll be less likely to suffer from cognitive decline as you get older.

People who eat processed foods along with a healthy diet don’t have the same protection from mental decline, including memory loss and problem solving, as someone who has rigidly followed the Mediterranean diet with its emphasis on fresh vegetables and fruit, fish and whole grains.

Researchers at Rush University Medical Center say that older people whose cognitive functions didn’t diminish were also the ones who most closely followed the Mediterranean approach. They tracked the mental health and diets of 5000 people over the age of 65 for 19 years and discovered that those who still ate processed foods, sugars and sweets got little or no benefit from the healthy foods they were also eating.

Those who strictly followed a healthy eating plan had a mental age that was nearly six years younger than someone who ate mostly processed food.

In addition, a Mediterranean diet also reduces your chances of heart disease, cancer and diabetes. “The more we can incorporate green leafy vegetables, other vegetables, berries, olive oil and fish into our diets, the better it is for our ageing brains and bodies”, said lead researcher Puja Agarwal.

(Source: Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association, 2021; doi: 10.1002/alz.12277)

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Article Topics: nutrition
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