Eating for Brain Health

“How do I boost my memory?” is a question that individuals everywhere are asking. Is there a way to reduce your risk for dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and other age-related memory loss? The answer might be found in the foods you put into your body on a regular basis.

Think of food to your body like gas to a car. The better-quality gas you put in, the better your car runs and the less it breaks down. The same is true with your body; the higher-quality food choices you eat, the better your brain and body will function over time. Unfortunately, many people eat for “now” and are not thinking about how that will affect their health in the future.

If you want your brain to function like a Porsche, not a Pinto, it’s time to start fueling it accordingly. There is significant research that encourages the intake of specific foods to boost your memory and brain health. The following three eating patterns highlight these foods and might accelerate your memory to a higher level!

Mediterranean Diet

The Mediterranean Diet emphasizes the intake of a variety of nutrient-rich foods such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains with olive oil as the main source of fat. It also includes low and non-fat dairy products, fish, olives, nuts and wine in moderation.

The omega-3 fatty acids, EPA (eicosapentaeonic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), found in this diet are essential to brain development and function. Fatty fish, healthy oils and walnuts specifically provide these nutrients. There is also research supporting omega-3’s positive benefits on mental health as well.

The beneficial effect of this diet on cognition seems to be linked to its abundance of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents that these foods provide.

MIND Diet

The MIND Diet is a combination of the Mediterranean and DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diets and thus named the Mediterranean-DASH Diet Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay. The diet was developed by the Rush University Medical Center and after tracking 1000 individuals over several years, they concluded that following the MIND Diet (rich in berries, green leafy vegetables and fish), lowers the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by 53 percent for those who follow it strictly. But not to worry, even those that choose this eating pattern part of the time can lower their risk for Alzheimer’s by one-third. Plus, the diet still provides the cardiovascular benefits of lowering blood pressure and decreasing the risk for heart attack and stroke.

Creators of the MIND Diet suggest increasing your consumption of ten brain-healthy foods:

1. Green leafy vegetables
2. Other vegetables
3. Nuts
4. Berries
5. Beans
6. Whole grains
7. Fish
8. Poultry
9. Olive oil
10. Wine

They also recommend cutting back on five foods:

1. Red meat
2. Butter and stick margarine
3. Cheese
4. Pastries and sweets
5. Fried or fast food

That’s not to say you can never eat the five listed foods above, but cutting back on them is important. In regard to red meat, look for leaner cuts to help reduce the saturated fat content.

Moderation

Can dark chocolate help your brain? Maybe so! It contains flavonoids that are antioxidants, which help improve blood flow to the brain and reduce inflammation. Unsweetened dark cocoa powder provides the greatest benefits, followed by dark chocolate with at least 72 percent cocoa solids.

Is your morning brew helping you think clearer? It might be! The Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation says caffeine and coffee might have long-term cognitive benefits, including alertness and attention. Up to three cups of coffee a day is recommended. Black and green teas also provide brain-boosting antioxidants. Allow your tea enough time to steep to get the maximum brain benefit.

Is happy-hour making your brain happier? Possibly, but only in moderation! The resveratrol found in red wine and the skin of red grapes is a potent antioxidant. It can possibly reduce cell damage associated with aging and may protect the formation of damaging plaques in the brain. Be sure to follow the recommendation of one glass a day for women and two for men.

There are other small steps you can take to boost your brain’s health as well. Try to get adequate sleep, stop smoking, exercise most days of the week and achieve a healthy body weight.

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If you are interested to hear more and receive personalized nutrition, check out STYR’s app, fitness tracker and suite of connected smart devices. Through the platform, you can track and log activity, food, hydration, sleep, nutrition, mood and more to personalize your nutrition needs based on data, science and access to registered dietitians, nutritionists and personal trainers.

Please note that this information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. We insist that you always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical/health condition or treatment and before initiating a new health care regime. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on the STYR app or on www.MyNutritioniQ.com.

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