The older we get, the more and more important it becomes to take care of our brains. The number one way you can keep your brain healthy is by eating foods that help improve your brain health. There are many diets out there that claim they boost brain health, but what diets legitimately boost your brain’s health?
How to Keep the Brain Healthy Naturally?
It is completely natural for your body and your brain to go through changes as you get older. Think of it like a car, if you take care of it, you can expect it to perform at a high level for a much longer time. There are things you can do to help slow any decline in memory and lower your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias. Here are some things you can do to keep your brain healthy:
Research has found that those who exercise frequently are far less likely to experience a decline in their mental function and have a lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. You should try to exercise several times per week for 30-60 minutes. Exercises don’t have to be rigorous weight training. Walking, swimming, jogging, playing tennis, stretching, and any other moderate aerobic activity that increases your heart rate works just fine.
Sleep plays a massive role in both our physical wellbeing and our mental wellbeing. Some experts even believe that sleep can help clear abnormal proteins in your brain and consolidate memories, which boosts your memory and brain health. You should try to get seven to eight consecutive hours of sleep per night. Consecutive sleep gives your brain the time to consolidate and store your memories.
Stay Mentally Engaged
Much like your muscles, your brain needs to be ‘worked out’ in order to keep it healthy. Things such as crossword puzzles, reading, playing cards, or putting together a puzzle can help stimulate the brain. You should also avoid watching too much television as it is a passive activity and does little to stimulate the brain.
Keeping up with social activity can help ward off depression and stress, both can play a huge role in memory loss. Connecting with loved ones, friends, and others, especially if you live alone, can help you keep your brain socially involved.
Which Food is Best for the Brain?
Of course, one of the best ways to take care of your brain is to eat a diet full of brain-healthy foods. These foods will not only take care of your brain’s wellbeing, but your entire body’s as a whole. Here are some foods that improve memory and concentration that also increase your longevity:
- Green veggies - These veggies are rich in nutrients such as vitamin K, lutein, folate, and beta carotene which can all slow cognitive decline
- Fatty fish - Fish have omega-3 acids and healthy unsaturated fats that have been linked to lower blood levels of beta-amyloid, which can cause brain damage
- Tea and coffee - Research has shown that those with higher caffeine consumption score better on tests of mental function
- Walnuts - Nuts are a great source of protein and healthy fats and may improve memory
By pairing a healthy diet with plenty of physical and mental exercise, you can take proper care of your brain. Both your brain and your body will thank you.
Which Fruit is Good for the Brain?
If you’re looking for the best brain-food snacks or the best brain-food for studying, look no further than fruit, more specifically berries. Flavonoids, the natural plant pigments that give berries their colorful hues, can also improve your memory. A 2012 Harvard study found that women who consumed two or more servings of strawberries and blueberries each week can delay memory decline by up to two-and-a-half years.
To be more specific, blueberries are the one berry experts recommend the most, even being coined as ‘brainberries’. Studies have found that diets rich in blueberries significantly improve both the learning capacity and motor skills of aging rats. You should aim to add at least 1 cup of blueberries a day in any form to your diet.
How Nutrition Affects the Brain
Earlier, we compared your brain to a car in the sense that it needs regular maintenance to ensure it runs smoothly. The affect nutrients have on our brain provides us with another opportunity to compare your brain to a car. Your car functions best when it gets premium fuel, and the same can be said for your brain.
Eating high-quality foods that contain vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants nourish the brain and protect it from oxidative stress. For example, foods high in spermidine can help induce bodily functions such as autophagy. This is the body’s process of replacing old and damaged cells with newer healthier ones. Autophagy can help reduce the negative effects of oxidative stress on the brain.
What is the Number One Food that Fights Dementia?
In recent years, there’s been a push in the research community to discover just how big of a role our diet plays on our brain health. In those studies, we’ve discovered that a healthy diet can greatly decrease the risk of developing Alzheimer’s. During the studies, researchers at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago developed a diet plan called the MIND diet.
Early studies have found that the diet may reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease by as much as 53%. The study, published in the journal Alzheimer's & Dementia, looked at more than 900 people between the ages of 58 and 98 who filled out food questionnaires and underwent repeated neurological testing. It found participants whose diets most closely followed the MIND recommendations had a level of cognitive function the equivalent of a person 7.5 years younger.
What Do You Eat on the Mind Diet?
The foods that you will find on the MIND diet are incredibly similar to the foods we mentioned earlier as being healthy for you. This is because these foods have been time and time again found to help the brain’s healing process. Here are some of the foods you can expect to eat on the MIND diet:
- Green Leafy Vegetables
- Other vegetables
- Whole grains
- Olive oil
This diet combines many elements from two other popular diets, the Mediterranean diet and the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet. In fact, the MIND diet stands for Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay.
What Foods Are Bad for Your Brain?
Just as important as it is that you eat food that is healthy for your brain, it’s important that you avoid food that is bad for your brain and memory. Experts suggest that nearly 65 million people will be suffering from dementia by 2030. You can reduce your risk of the disease by avoiding some of these foods:
- Sugary drinks - An excessive intake of sugary drinks can increase the odds of developing type 2 diabetes which can increase the risk of Alzheimer’s
- Refined Carbs - These types of carbs are high in GI and GL which can impair brain function
- Foods high in trans fats - Artificial trans fats can come with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s diseases, poorer memory, lower brain volume, and cognitive decline
- Highly processed foods - These foods are high in calories and low and nutrients. These foods will make you gain weight while having a negative effect on your brain health
- Aspartame - This sweetener has been linked to behavioral and cognitive problems
Your diet has a massive impact on your brain health. Inflammatory diet patterns can contribute to impaired memory and learning. This doesn’t mean that you can never eat these foods. However, you should eat these foods in moderation, maybe once a week or even once a month.
How Junk Food Affects the Brain
Junk food uses sensory contrasts to make our eating experience more pleasurable. However, these sensory contrasts trick our brain into thinking it’s not heavy food. Bad diets full of junk food can cause dementia due to high blood pressure and cholesterol disrupting the blood supply to the brain.
Research also shows that junk food can prevent brain cells from responding properly to insulin. On top of that, too much junk food can also make us feel dull and disinterested, which can lead to a more sedentary lifestyle. We have already discussed how important it is to be active, a junk food diet may prevent that.
What Are 5 Worst Foods for Memory?
So we have established that a poor diet can cause a major decline in cognitive functions. By simply altering your diet, you greatly reduce the risk of developing diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease. But what are the main foods you should avoid? Here are five foods that cause memory loss:
- Refined bread and pasta - These foods are stripped of the nutrients so there’s no fiber to slow down their digestion
- Red meat - Studies found the most important dietary link to Alzheimer’s Disease appears to be meat consumption, with eggs and high-fat dairy also contributing. Just like saturated fat clogs cardiovascular system, the blood vessels in our brain become clogged as well
- Vegetable Oils - These oils are full of omega-6 which is an inflammatory fatty acid, which is linked with increased risk for Alzheimer’s
- Cheese - Pizza and cheese are the biggest sources of saturated fat in the American diet. This fat clogs our brain vessels the same way it clogs our heart vessels
- Refined Sugar - Too much sugar causes inflammation in the brain and like those refined carbs, it spikes your blood sugar which leaves your body and your brain without the energy they need
As we mentioned earlier, it’s not like you need to stop eating these foods for the rest of your life. However, cutting these foods out of your regular diet can help tremendously. It’s okay to splurge every once in a while but you should not be eating these foods regularly.
What Nutrients Are Needed for Brain Function?
Nutrients help keep our brain healthy and can reduce depression and dementia risk, which can help improve our longevity. Luckily, the nutrients that researchers recommend can be found in most healthy diets. If you focus on eating brain-healthy foods, you should have no issue getting the nutrients you need. Here are some essential nutrients:
- Long-chain omega 3 fatty acids
- Vitamins B1, B9, B12, D, and E
There are plenty of other nutrients that doctors and research recommend but these are some of the main nutrients.
What Supplements Can Help?
We mentioned that as long as you follow a brain-food diet you should have no issue getting the nutrients that you need to ensure proper brain health. This is because these diets were specifically designed to get you the nutrients that you need. However, even if you follow the diet to a T, it can still be difficult to get your recommended daily dose of the recommended nutrients.
This is where supplements can come in handy. For example, spermidine helps induce autophagy, which is a crucial bodily function that helps you live a longer, healthier life. Unfortunately, most people struggle to get their recommended daily dose of spermidine. This is why spermidine supplements can help you live a longer, healthier life.