Brain Health Series: Food For Thought

Posted on by Paula Gallagher

Brain health is a critical part of overall health that many people tend to neglect. We all know that to have a better quality life, exercise, sleep and healthy diet all play an important role. But these factors are also important for brain health. More and more research is showing that lifestyle factors can have profound effects on the progression of cognitive decline. In this brain series, I will be looking at diet, exercise, sleep, stress and supplements, and how they are part of important steps to help preserve and maintain optimal brain function, particularly as we age. Good nutrition plays a large role in helping to protect against heart disease, and even cancer. But certain foods are also crucial for maintaining cognitive health. Cold water fish: Studies show that eating fish at least once per week lowers the risk of developing dementia or Alzheimer disease. Halibut, mackerel, wild-caught salmon, trout and tuna have high levels of omega-3 fatty fatty acids, which have shown to have a positive correlation with brain health. Nuts and seeds: Walnuts, pecans and almonds are all good sources of vitamin E and are some of the best brain boosting foods. Walnuts in particular are a good source of alpha-linolenic acid, and omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to help with brain function. In fact, a UCLA research study found that walnuts helped students achieve higher scores on cognitive tests. Blueberries: The antioxidants and phytochemicals in blueberries improve neuron signaling and they collect in the areas of the brain associated with intelligence and memory care. They have been linked to improved learning and reduced neurodegenerative oxidative stress. Vegetables: Cruciferous vegetables and leafy greens have been associated with reduced cognitive decline. One study showed cruciferous vegetables that are rich in carotenoid antioxidants (lutein and zeaxanthin) can cross the blood-brain barrier and accumulate in the brain, providing protection against free-radical damage and age-related cognitive decline. Research has also shown that eating leafy vegetables like spinach, reduces oxidative stress, aging effects and cognitive deficit. Photo from here, with thanks.