Healthy Eating for a Healthy Brain

Healthy Eating for a Healthy Brain

The Relationship between Diet and Brain Health

Most adults are already well aware of the impact their diets have on their bodies. Eating foods packed with vitamins and nutrients while low in sugars and “bad fats” not only helps you manage your weight, but you’ll maintain the best overall physical health, too. For seniors, a nutritious diet has benefits like lowering the risk for diabetes, hypertension and heart disease, and can aid in strengthening bones and teeth.

Recently, research reveals that the types of food we eat can also have an impact on memory and cognition. Healthy eating not only has a positive effect on your physical health, but it can also help protect brain cells and reduce the risk for developing dementias such as Alzheimer’s disease.

The Best Types of Food for the Brain

Sometimes, making the right food choices can feel difficult. It’s often easier to grab a pre-packaged, salty or sugar snack to quench a craving than it is to reach for a healthier option. However, there’s no time like the present to evaluate your current diet and to start making some healthy changes — especially when armed with the knowledge that incorporating the right types of food for the brain may help lower the risk for cognitive decline.

Some well-known “superfoods” have already been identified that offer benefits above and beyond others. In particular, they aid in fighting disease and boosting immunity, two things that can drastically improve overall quality of life. These foods are also known to improve brain health, so it’s important to start adding them to your diet — the sooner the better! A few of the best foods for a healthy brain include:

  • Seafood rich with omega-3s: Omega-3 is an essential fatty acid that has anti-inflammatory properties. This healthy fat can reduce the buildup of beta-amyloid plaques in the brain that cause Alzheimer’s disease. Fish like salmon, tuna, pollock, mackerel and cod are high in omega-3 fatty acids — so are avocados, eggs and olive oil.
  • Foods packed with vitamin E: Vitamin E can help lower an amino acid called homocysteine in the blood that may trigger the death of nerve cells in the brain, and researchers have noted that foods high in vitamin E are often associated with a lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Foods rich in vitamin E include walnuts, almonds, sunflower seeds, avocados, peanut butter, almonds and hazelnuts.
  • Leafy, green vegetables: Studies reveal that those who have an iron deficiency may have difficulty with memory and attention span. Dark green veggies like kale and spinach are considered superfoods that are packed full of iron that can help protect your brain from damaging free radicals. Plus, these veggies are also high in vitamin E and folate.
  • Cherries and berries: Dark berries are rich in both antioxidants and flavonoids that can help boost memory function. A variety of new studies have shown that blueberries, strawberries, blackberries and acai berries can help protect the brain from oxidative stress to reduce the effects of age-related conditions like Alzheimer’s.
  • Coffee and tea: Studies have shown that those who consume three cups of coffee per day were 65% less likely to develop dementias like Alzheimer’s. Coffee can also help fight off oxidative stress and reduce your risk for neurodegenerative diseases. Not a coffee drinker? Tea (black, green, oolong, etc.) is also great for your brain, as it contains an amino acid called theanine that can help activate the part of your brain that is connected to your attention span.

The main thing to remember when starting a brain-healthy diet is to make smarter decisions about nutrition overall. Try to avoid saturated and trans fats, processed foods, sugars, and any grain that isn’t whole grain. A general rule of thumb is that if what’s in your kitchen can last many, many years, it’s bad for you. On the other hand, if food can go bad, it’s good for you. Properly planning ahead for the week can also help; chop up veggies and portion out fruits and nuts ahead of time so you don’t find yourself reaching for that convenient, sugary snack instead of a healthier option.

Enjoy a Healthy Lifestyle at Advent Christian Village

At Advent Christian Village, we understand the impact good nutrition has on the body and mind. Enjoy healthy meals daily in the Rumph Dining Room, Lopin’ Gopher Deli or Village Café. Plus, the Village Grocer, located right on campus, carries a wide variety of fresh foods for those who prefer to cook a nutritious meal at home. We invite you to contact us to schedule a personal, guided tour so you can see all that ACV has to offer.

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