Did you know 90% of Alzheimer’s cases could be prevented with diet and lifestyle changes (1)? Even if you have a genetic risk, diet and lifestyle can potentially delay it by 10-15 years! Read on to discover five super foods for brain health because cognitive decline doesn’t have to be your fate!
In mainstream medicine, you don’t hear this information because most doctors only receive very little nutritional education – much of that is on preventing malnourishment versus optimal nutrition for sustaining healthy function. There is a lot of money spent on developing new pharmaceutical drugs to slow the progression or to find a magic pill cure. But, new research is indicating that certain lifestyle factors can actually prevent dementia or even reverse brain cell damage if it has already started. And, since symptoms appear as early as 30 years prior to diagnosis (2), even if you have a genetic tendency, there are significant things you can do now to greatly reduce the risk of it ever raising its ugly head.
How you eat is just one of the things you can do proactively!
Whole real, foods provide brain-boosting benefits because they offer critical minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, flavonoids, polyphenols and other phytonutrients your body and brain need for optimal function. Certain beneficial phytochemicals in plants are able to cross the blood brain barrier and can help in preventing oxidation that eventually leads to dementia. And, these foods don’t just reduce Alzheimer’s and dementia risk but they support memory and mental clarity now.
These are 5 super foods to support brain health now:
India has the lowest rates of Alzheimer’s disease in the world. It is believed the compound curcumin, an orange polyphenol, helps as an antioxidant as well as relaxing blood vessels and increasing blood flow to the brain. Antioxidants protect your cells from the effects of free radicals, helping ward off cell damage by cleaning up and removing waste products from our cells. Free radicals are a by-product of breaking down food and other processes in the body. They are highly reactive, ultimately damage normal cells in the body, and are implicated in cell damage that leads to cancer.
Turmeric also contains anti-inflammatory properties. This is beneficial because chronic inflammation is how chronic diseases take hold. It is also more easily absorbed when combined with black pepper and a healthy fat.
Leafy Greens and Cruciferous Vegetables
Study after study shows the benefits to eating leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts. One such study followed over 13,000 women over 29 years. They were administered cognitive tests. Those consuming more of the cruciferous veggies had the best scores (3). In another study, those eating spinach and kale once or twice a day stopped their mental decline by 11 years (4)! Plus, the microbes in your gut take the prebiotic fibers and amino acids in plant matter to make neurotransmitters and this supports brain health, mood, and function too!
Green and white teas have the highest levels of antioxidants, are the least processed, and have the lowest caffeine content. However, decaffeinated tea has about 75 percent less antioxidants. Tea consumption, with its high antioxidant content, has been linked to lower rates of Alzheimer’s (5).
Berries might be the best fruits for you! They have less of an effect on blood sugar. They contain minerals, vitamins, flavonoids, polyphenols, and antioxidants like anthocyanins – which have been shown to improve brain function (6). Numerous studies have been linked better brain health and lowered depression scores to blueberry consumption (7). Plus, they are yummy fresh, frozen or dried!
Omega-3s are fatty acids that come in three types: ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). Salmon, especially wild salmon, sardines and herring, contain high amounts of the DHA. Farmed salmon is not preferred because it has higher levels of heavy metals and mercury. DHA makes up a large part of the structural component of the brain including the cerebral cortex. This part of the brain is responsible for memory, language, emotion, attention and creativity. Studies show that seniors with higher levels of DHA have a 39 and 47 percent lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s and dementia respectively (8). Diets containing a daily Omega-3s have a 26 percent lower risk of lesions that can cause dementia. Walnuts, ground flax seeds or flax oil, hemp seeds, and chia seeds are plant foods that have higher levels of ALA. Unless you are eating these foods in adequate amounts daily, a supplement might be worth considering.
One of the biggest ways you can prevent disease is watching what you eat! Food is medicine and provides the body with vital information that supports optimal function. Over a period of time, if it doesn’t get the information it needs, then diseases and symptoms begin to appear. Truly, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
If eating healthy is a challenge for you, schedule a free 30-minute call. I work with women wanting to improve their health so they can prevent diseases they see their parents struggling with and have a healthier future.