Eating healthy is always a wise thing. What child hasn’t heard the dreaded words, “Eat your veggies!”? But good nutrition shouldn’t end once we start buying our own food and are able to reach the ice cream in the freezer without a step stool. It is a lifetime journey. And when it comes to preventing diseases, including Alzheimer’s, the right foods may be more important than you think. While water continues to be key and processed sugar is not healthy, here is a short list of foods that, some studies say, are beneficial to our brain health.
HEALTHY OILS: Olive Oil, preferably extra virgin. Protects blood vessels throughout the body, including the brain. Heating damages some of its valuable properties, so limit this delicate liquid gold to dressing your salads. Coconut oil, organic please. Contains ketones, organic fuel produced when the body burns fat, which may help improve brain function. So if you are going to fry, use the coconut.
LEGUMES: Beans are brain food, nutrient dense and fiber rich. Even the little ol’ lentil packs a punch with a bevy of B vitamins (which slows brain shrinkage), iron, and folate. Many Alzheimer’s patients also suffer from diabetes, and legumes are a low glycemic index carbohydrate. That means long term energy without spikes in glucose levels and less insulin having to be produced.
BERRIES: The darker, the better. Loaded with antioxidants, the enemy of free radicals, which cause trouble wherever they wish, including the brain. Eating these is like kicking those suckers where it hurts.
SALMON: Contains omega-3 fatty acids which can lower blood levels of beta-amyloid, a protein believed to play a role in Alzheimer’s. Choose wild. Frozen, fresh, or canned, it is a better choice than farmed.
NUTS AND SEEDS: More omega-3s, if fish isn’t your thing. Try walnuts and flaxseed. Brazil nuts are high in selenium, and some studies show patients with low levels also have the highest risk of cognitive decline. So get cracking on those nuts!
LEAFY GREENS: You know the usual suspects. Kale, chard, collards, mustard greens. Maxed out with Vitamin K which not only regulates calcium in bones but also in the brain. So do like Popeye and eats your spinach!
ORANGE STUFF: Sorry. Not Cheetos or cheese doodles. We’re talking pumpkin, sweet potatoes, bell peppers, tropical fruits. Lots of vitamin A, folate and iron there, which helps with cognition. Don’t overcook.
CINNAMON, SAGE, TURMERIC AND CUMIN: These spices can all help to break up brain plaque and reduce inflammation of the brain which can cause memory issues.
AVOID PROCESSED SUGAR AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE: Choose whole fruits. Keeping your blood sugar level down, which also means you make less insulin, preserves your memory.
DRINK FILTERED WATER: People exposed to water with high aluminum concentrates are more likely to suffer from Alzheimer’s or dementia. Try and make sure that your water is free of aluminum. Best bet is mineral water, particularly those that are silicon-rich.