A healthy diet of more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, dairy, nuts and fish has been linked to a bigger brain size.
The relationship between brain size and intelligence has been well-documented, most linking a bigger brain (greater brain volume) to better cognitive function and higher IQ. (1,2,3)
These initial findings have set researchers out to find ways to naturally boost brain size in an effort to ward off cognitive decline with age. Here are a few ways to naturally boost your brain size.
5 Ways to Maximize your Brain Power
Regular Exercise and More Social Interactions
Past studies have found that regular exercise and more social interactions can increase brain size and cognitive function later on in life. (2)
Low levels of B12 have been linked to a decrease in brain volume. In one study of 107 healthy elderly individuals, the group that had the lowest levels of vitamin B12 had the greatest decrease in brain size over a 5-year period. (4)
Balanced Blood Sugar
Studies show a correlation between fasting blood sugar levels on the higher end of the normal range and decreased brain volume. Another reason to be aware of the relationship between diet and blood sugar levels! (5)
Studies also show a correlation between low levels of omega-3 DHA (found in fish oils) and reduction in total cerebral brain volume or size, decreased visual memory, executive function and abstract thinking compared to those with higher levels of DHA. (6)
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The Bigger Brain Diet
In a study published in May 2018 in the journal Neurology, the diets of some 4,213 healthy individuals with the average age of 66 were evaluated for one month. Almost 400 food items were broken down in categories of vegetables, fruit, whole grain products, legumes, nuts, dairy, fish, tea, unsaturated fats and oils of total fats, red and processed meat, sugary beverages, alcohol, and salt.
After adjusting for smoking, high blood pressure and aging, all the participants were given brain scans to measure brain volume, white matter lesions, and small brain bleeds. The individuals who had the greatest brain size ate the greatest amount of vegetables, fruit, nuts, whole grains, dairy and fish. This group also consumed the lowest amounts of sugary beverages. (7)
While these findings only suggest an association between a healthy diet and brain size, they also performed a comparison study with folks who ate a Mediterranean Diet (very similar to this diet) and found similar findings in association with brain size. (7,8)
It is hard to find fault with the logic that eating such a healthy diet would deliver numerous health benefits. While all the foods are generally considered healthy, in an evolutionary sense, these foods were only available seasonally. New science tells us that not only did the foods change seasonally, but so did the gut microbiology. (9)
To get the most out of a healthy diet, consider making seasonal adjustments to an already healthy diet.
To make this easy to accomplish, I publish a FREE monthly seasonal eating guide where you receive grocery lists, recipes and superfoods for each month of the year.