KEEPING YOUR BRAIN HEALTHY THROUGH YOUR DIET
Americans are living longer and the subject of maintaining a healthy brain and cognitive function is becoming increasingly important. Yes, it’s great that we can prevent disease and have better treatment options than ever before for diseases such as heart disease, cancer, obesity and diabetes. However, what about preserving the quality of our lives by making sure our brain health is maintained as well. Is it possible? Are there steps we can take to help ensure that we will stay sharp in our thinking capabilities?
For this post, I would like to focus particularly on our diet. There is no question that the foods we eat have an impact on our health, especially long term. Chronic diseases can be fought, and in some cases prevented with wise dietary choices. As our population ages, how our diet may affect our cognitive abilities is the subject of several research studies.
According to this article in Alzheimer’s News Today, recent studies have shown that those who followed the MIND diet plan may be up to 7 years younger in terms of cognitive health than those who did not follow this type of diet. In another study at UCLA which was published in the June issue of the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry discovered that “people may be able to improve their cognitive function and brain efficiency by making simple lifestyle changes such as incorporating memory exercises, healthy eating, physical fitness and stress reduction into their daily lives” . More research is currently being funded to further study the impact of this type of diet and how it affects our brains.
So what exactly should you be eating and what exactly is the MIND diet? The MIND diet that supports a healthy brain is one that is high in vegetables, particularly leafy greens. Spinach, kale, collard greens, mustard greens, bok choy, cabbage, swiss chard, endive, butter lettuce, watercress, red leaf lettuce are all good choices. Salad, chopped up and incorporated into recipes, tossed into a smoothie or sautéed with some spices are all ways to incorporate these valuable foods into your daily intake.
Whole grains are also part of this diet . To be considered a whole, a grain should include the entire seed which means it hasn’t been refined and parts of the kernel removed. Oats, barley, farro, buckwheat, amaranth, bulger and freekah are all good examples.
Foods high in omega 3 fatty acids are also included and those are fish such as salmon, tuna, mackerel, anchovies and sardines are all good choices for high omega 3 content.