You are what you eat. Not new, but an idea that has taken on new significance as Americans live longer. Most people understand the importance of maintaining physical fitness to keep the body running well as they age, but don’t always realize that maintaining the brain is equally important. Changes in the brain can begin as early as two decades before symptoms of cognitive decline appear. However, research indicates that there are things you can do now to maintain your brain and retain cognitive function longer. Not surprisingly, physical fitness and good nutrition top the list.
Current research says a brain-healthy diet encourages good blood flow to the brain, is low in fat and cholesterol and includes foods rich in anti-oxidants. Like the heart, the brain needs the right balance of nutrients to function well. To be most effective, a brain-healthy diet should be combined with physical and mental activity and social interaction.
Belmont Village’s Smart Tips for Brain Health:
- Eat in moderation; increase intake of protective foods that may reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke, and protect brain cells.
- Avoid artery-clogging saturated fats and cholesterol that can put you at higher risk for Alzheimer’s disease. Use mono-and polyunsaturated fats like olive oil. Bake or grill – don’t fry!
- Eat your brussel sprouts! Dark-skinned fruits and vegetables have the highest levels of naturally occurring antioxidants – kale, spinach, brussel and alfalfa sprouts, broccoli, beets, red bell pepper, onion, corn and eggplant top the veggie list.
- Plum picks for antioxidant-rich fruits include, well, plums. Also, prunes, raisins, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, raspberries, oranges, red grapes and cherries
- Swim upstream with cold water fish containing beneficial omega-3 fatty acids like halibut, mackerel, salmon, trout and tuna.
- Go nuts for almonds, pecans and walnuts – they’re a good source of vitamin E, an antioxidant.
- Take your vitamins – Especially vitamin E, or vitamins E and C together, vitamin B12 and folate. All may be important in lowering your risk of developing Alzheimer’s. A brain-healthy diet will help your body use these vitamins effectively.