Traditional Japanese Diet Linked to Improved Brain Health in Women, Research Finds

by Ella

Recent research suggests that adhering to a traditional Japanese diet rich in green tea, seaweed, and fish may offer significant benefits for women’s brain health, potentially helping to prevent age-related brain shrinkage, a common precursor to cognitive decline and dementia. However, the study indicates that this positive association was observed exclusively in women.

Japan, particularly Okinawa, has long been recognized for its population of centenarians, with many individuals surpassing the age of 100. Alongside their active lifestyles and positive outlook, the dietary habits of these centenarians, characterized by a consumption of vegetables, rice, fish, and seaweed, are believed to contribute to their longevity. However, it’s not just centenarians who adhere to this traditional diet in Japan.


Research indicates that such dietary patterns may play a role in mitigating age-related brain shrinkage, particularly in women. Brain atrophy, commonly observed in older individuals, is associated with cognitive decline and dementia. The study, published in the Nutrition Journal, underscores the potential protective effects of healthy dietary patterns, including higher intake of whole grains, seafood, vegetables, fruits, mushrooms, soybean products, and green tea, against brain atrophy in middle-aged and older Japanese women, but not men.


Conducted with the support of Japan’s National Center for Geriatrics and Gerontology and the University of Liverpool in the UK, the research involved 1,636 Japanese adults aged 40 to 89. Over a two-year period, participants’ diets were monitored, revealing three primary dietary patterns: the Western diet, characterized by typical Western foods; a diet centered on vegetables, fruit, and dairy products; and the traditional Japanese diet.


The study highlights the potential cognitive health benefits associated with the consumption of green tea, mushrooms, miso (fermented soybean paste), and other staples of the traditional Japanese diet among women. Specifically, women adhering to the traditional Japanese diet exhibited reduced brain shrinkage compared to those following a Western diet. However, this association was not observed in men.


These findings underscore the importance of dietary choices in promoting brain health and suggest that traditional Japanese dietary habits may offer protective effects against age-related cognitive decline, particularly among women. Further research is warranted to explore the underlying mechanisms and potential gender differences in dietary impacts on brain health.



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