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Published on: September 11, 2015
by Evonne Madden for Herald Sun:
Scientists have proven that a part of the brain crucial for learning, memory and general mental health is smaller in people who overindulge in unhealthy snacks.
And evidence of adults favouring a healthy diet can also be seen in MRI scans.
In a study published in the international journal BMC Medicine, Deakin University researchers analysed the brain scans of 255 adults, aged 60-64.
They focused on the hippocampus in the left side of the brain, which is critical for cognition and mood regulation.
Assoc Professor Felice Jacka, from the Deakin’s IMPACT Strategic Research Centre in Geelong, said diet was clearly shown to impact the “size and function” of the hippocampus.
“It is becoming even clearer that diet is critically important to mental as well as physical health throughout life, she said.
Assoc Prof Jacka said the hippocampus was one of few structures in the brain that “continually grows new cells”, which explained while dietary intake was important across all ages.
She said the research could have important implications for the prevention and treatment of dementia.
Assoc Prof Jacka said examples of unhealthy foods included “the usual suspects” — foods high in salt, sugar and fat.
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