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A traditional Japanese diet may benefit women’s brain health, research suggests

TOKYO, April 17 ― Research suggests that a diet of traditional Japanese foods like green tea, seaweed and fish may help prevent brain shrinkage with age, a common marker of cognitive decline and dementia. However, the study reports that this beneficial effect was only found in women!

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It’s no secret that Japan ― and in particular Okinawa, located in the south of the country, not far from Taiwan ― is known for its centenarians. In fact, the idyllic Japanese archipelago is home to a large number of seniors who have passed the 100-year mark. Apart from their state of mind and active lifestyle, as detailed by Japan Airlines, their diet is also thought to contribute to their longevity. Vegetables of all kinds, but also rice, fish and seaweed are on the menu for these famous centenarians. But, they’re not the only people in Japan following this kind of traditional diet.

And that’s a good thing, because research suggests that these eating habits may help prevent age-associated brain shrinkage, especially in women. In older people, this kind of brain shrinkage may lead to cognitive decline and dementia. “Adherence to healthy dietary patterns, with higher consumption of whole grains, seafood, vegetables, fruits, mushrooms, soybean products, and green tea, potentially confers a protective effect against brain atrophy in middle-aged and older Japanese women but not in men,” concludes the research, published in the Nutrition Journal.

A total of 1,636 Japanese adults aged between 40 and 89 took part in the research, which was supported by Japan’s National Center for Geriatrics and Gerontology and the University of Liverpool in the UK. Participants’ diets were monitored for two years, enabling three main types of diet to be determined: the Western diet; a diet based mainly on vegetables, fruit and dairy products; and finally the traditional Japanese diet. The study findings suggest that the secret to good cognitive health for women may lie in the consumption of green tea, mushrooms, miso (fermented soybean paste) and other typically Japanese foods. In fact, women who followed the traditional Japanese diet were found to have less brain shrinkage compared to those who followed a Western diet. The same was not true for men. ― ETX Studio

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