Some foods are good for our brains.
Salmon, for example, provides the use of vital proteins to improve cognition and mood. Walnuts and avocados contain omega-3 fatty acids to support focus and blood flow to the brain.
But can these “brain foods” actually prevent cognitive decline and cognitive diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease?
Although there is no single way of eating that guarantees protection against dementia, studies show that some foods are indeed “brain foods”, in that they stimulate cell growth, sharpen the brain’s memory centers and thus reduce cognitive decline.
Read on Dietitian at Sarasota Bonnie London Tips to eat well for brain health.
Eat a Mediterranean diet or MIND
2017 study They analyzed the diets of 5,900 adults in the United States and found that those who stuck to the Mediterranean and MIND diets had a 30 percent to 35 percent lower risk of developing cognitive impairment than those who did not.
The Mediterranean diet consists of seafood, fish, fruits, vegetables, nuts and olive oil, with smaller amounts of poultry, eggs and dairy products. The MIND diet consists of at least three servings of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables per day; 1 to 2 servings per week of beans, poultry and fish; And daily snacks of nuts and berries.
Both emphasize limiting red meat, dairy, fried foods, and processed sugar.
Eat a heart-healthy diet too
What is good for the heart is good for the brain Dr. Ronald Peterson says:D., a neurologist and director of the Mayo Clinic Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center.
This means sticking to diets that contain heart-healthy ingredients like omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants, and less cholesterol, salt and saturated fats.
study from Harvard Health I found that nutrients like vitamin K, lutein, folate and beta-carotene are good for the heart and brain as well, as they keep blood vessels healthy.
Eat leafy greens.
Clay greens linked to slower age-related cognitive decline. Clinical trial from Israel It was found that those who consumed manqui – a green plant full of nutrients – green tea and walnuts had the slowest rate of age-related brain atrophy.
Mix vegetables into smoothies and pasta dishes, in breakfast shakes and as an addition to soups and other appetizers. Find salad recipes that you enjoy and that you can make on a weekly basis. Seek help from a dietitian—or check out our list of the best salads in Sarasota Manatee.
Colorful fruits and vegetables contain a natural substance called flavonoids. Those who consume flavonoids from fruits, vegetables and even dark chocolate and red wine (in moderation) was less likely To report signs of cognitive aging from those who consumed lower amounts of flavonoids.
Blueberries and strawberries, in particular, are antioxidant-rich foods for the brain. study It found that older women who ate two servings each day had delayed rates of cognitive decline by up to 2.5 years.
“Fruit is a great source of phytonutrients, but it can also contain the natural sugar fructose, so eat certain fruits in moderation,” London writes. “There are 61 different names for sugar in processed foods, so look for hidden sources of sugar in common items like bread, cereal, and salad dressing.”
Try fatty fish
Omega-3 is found in abundance in salmon, mackerel, trout and other cold water fish. Salmon, in particular, contains an ingredient called docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA, which is the most prevalent brain fat. According to Lisa Mosconi, Director of the Alzheimer’s Disease Prevention Program at Weill Cornell Medicine.
Since our bodies cannot produce large amounts of DHA on their own, we have to get it from our diet. Eating fish is the best way to do this, especially since fatty acid supplementation has been found to have little effect on cognitive decline.
“65% of your brain is made up of fat,” London explains. “Whatever form of fat you ingest is transferred directly to the cell membrane, the gatekeeper for what goes in and out of cells and plays an important role in communication with surrounding cells.”
Balancing Omega-6 fatty acids with Omega-3
“When it comes to fats, it’s all about the omega-6 to omega-3 ratio,” London wrote. “This ratio has changed dramatically since the turn of the century due to the widespread use of soy and corn, which provide large amounts of omega-6. So it’s not enough to increase your omega-3 intake; you need to decrease your omega-6 intake as well.”
London suggests avoiding hydrogenated oils or trans fats such as soybean oil, corn oil, safflower oil and cottonseed oils, which can lead to inflammation in the brain. Instead, use olive, hemp, and coconut oil.
Study 2022 by Journal of the American College of Cardiology It found that adults who consumed more olive oil were associated with a 29 percent lower risk of death from neurodegenerative diseases compared to those who never or rarely consumed olive oil.
Snack on nuts, seeds, and legumes
Walnuts are touted as a great brain, and heart-healthy snack. Lentils, soybeans, almonds, and pistachios are other great options. Article by Journal of Nutrition, Health and Aging In 2014 it was reported that women who ate at least five servings of nuts per week had better cognitive outcomes than those who did not eat nuts.
Balance your gut microbiome
According to London, balancing the bacteria that line the walls of your stomach and intestines (aka your microbiome) can also benefit the brain. Bacteria make up 90 percent of your body’s cells, with bacteria in your gut particularly responsible for producing 95 percent of the serotonin and 50 percent of the dopamine neurotransmitters in your body.
A happy gut can equal a happy brain. London suggests trying fermented foods like kefir, kimchi, kombucha, apple cider vinegar, and miso soup. She also suggests eating food that contains prebiotics like raw onions, garlic, asparagus, and bananas.
“Avoid foods that contain preservatives intended to destroy bacteria, yeast, and mold, and extend shelf life,” she says. “Preservatives can also destroy the beneficial bacteria in our gut.”
Remember that diet cannot cure or reverse cognitive decline
There is no cure for dementia or medication to prevent it, which means that one diet cannot guarantee protection from it either. But if you eat, exercise, and reduce stress to reverse other health conditions like high blood pressure, obesity, and diabetes, you may also reduce your chances of cognitive decline in the process.
“Caring for your brain is not an impossible task,” says London. “Focus on the things you consume the most time; strive to fill your plate with nutrients.”