Foods high in magnesium, such as spinach, bananas, or bitter chocolate – help slow down the aging of the brain and reduce the risk of dementia. This conclusion was made by scientists from Australia based on the results of a large-scale study.
Neurodegenerative diseases are the scourge of our time, which affects millions of people around the world. And the forecasts are disappointing: by 2050, the number of patients diagnosed with dementia will more than double. “Since there is no cure for dementia and the development of pharmacological treatments over the past 30 years has been unsuccessful, more attention should be paid to prevention.”says a new study from the Australian National University.
The authors of the study used data from more than 6,000 Britons aged 40 to 73 who showed no signs of neurological disorders. They were fully examined, in particular, a computer visualization of the brain was made for each: its volume and amount of white matter, as well as areas of its damage, were recorded.
Brain size is an important factor in the development of neurodegenerative diseases: in people with Alzheimer’s disease, its atrophy just precedes the onset of clinical symptoms. White matter is found mainly in the inner part of the brain, it consists of bundles of nerve fibers that connect to the gray matter. White matter lesions (WML) appear as bright spots on MRI scans and often indicate inflammation and damage to myelin, the insulating sheath that surrounds nerves. These abnormalities are considered an early sign of Alzheimer’s disease and stroke.
Participants in the study, which lasted 16 months, regularly reported on their diet. For the first time, scientists have found that dietary magnesium was associated with larger brain volumes and lower WML. People who consume more than 550 milligrams of magnesium every day, by the age of 55, the “organ of command” appeared to be about a year “younger” compared to those whose daily dose did not exceed 350 milligrams. The protective effects were stronger in women, especially in postmenopausal women.
The researchers concluded that a 40% increase in magnesium intake could slow age-related decline in brain size, which is associated with better cognitive function and a lower risk of or delayed onset of dementia in older age. In this case, changes in the diet should be made as early as possible. “Our study shows that higher dietary magnesium intake may promote neuroprotection earlier in the aging process, and preventive effects may appear at age 40 or even earlier. This means that people of all ages should be given more attention to magnesium intake”– speaks Khawla Alatiklead author of the study.
Scientists note that there is a lot of magnesium in bananas, greens (spinach, watercress), avocados, red sweet peppers, legumes (peanuts, beans, chickpeas, lentils), nuts (almonds, cashews) and pumpkin seeds. Dark chocolate is also rich in this macronutrient. The exact mechanisms underlying the neuroprotective action of magnesium have not yet been determined. Presumably, it stops oxidative stress in the brain cells and inhibits the associated inflammatory processes, due to which the white matter structure is disrupted and Alzheimer’s disease can develop.
Victoria Zalesskaya, dietician-nutritionist
Magnesium is an essential element for health. It is difficult to list all its functions, there are many of them. Magnesium aids in the absorption of calcium and vitamin D. These will only work in the body in the presence of sufficient magnesium. It also regulates the functioning of the nervous system, reduces anxiety, stress, stabilizes the heart rate, and helps regulate blood pressure. If you have cramps or shudders while falling asleep, pay attention to the magnesium content in your body.