We are now learning more than ever regarding nutrition. We have a thorough understanding of how certain nutrients benefit our internal systems. When we think of eating healthy, we typically think of food benefiting our heart, liver, kidneys, and other vital organs. However, the brain is an organ that tends to get left out.
Our brains are incredibly complex. Sure, we do not know everything, but we are beginning to unlock crucial pieces of information. We’re starting to understand how our brains are affected by cognitive decline. This has led us to numerous preventative measures.
Preventative Measures and Nutrition, What’s the Link?
Just as the rest of your internal systems need nutrients, your brain is no different. It relies on vitamins and minerals in order to function properly. One important factor is believed to be glial cells. These cells help remove toxins from the brain that can lead to Alzheimer’s. Certain foods (blueberries, fish, ginger), help protect these cells.
You need to consume a diet that is high in whole grains, lean sources of protein, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. These items improve overall brain function, while may help prevent or delay the onset of Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Foods that Boost Brain Health
We are eating far too many processed foods. These products contain vast amounts of chemicals, preservatives, and artificial sweeteners; without providing much nutrition. You need to focus on whole foods, consuming items that are in their natural state.
Focus on some of the following foods, incorporating them into your everyday diet:
Whole grains and Complex Carbs
Carbohydrates have gotten a bad rep within the weight-loss world. We have been misinformed, as complex carbohydrates are essential for your health (including brain health). White breads and pastas are what you call ‘refined carbohydrates.’ These spike blood sugar levels and do not provide your brain with sustained energy.
Whole grains increase blood flow to the brain, which increases the amount of oxygen and nutrients that are reaching your brain. Start consuming more barley, rye, brown rice, legumes, and starchy vegetables (sweet potatoes).
These tiny berries are packed with antioxidants, which decrease the risk of cognitive impairment. A study conducted at Tufts University, focused on ageing illness and blueberry extract. Old aged rats were given blueberry extracts for eight weeks.
The antioxidants in blueberries help to fight off free radicals, which are extremely harmful to brain cells and overall brain function. When compared to the rats that were fed a normal diet, the rats that were fed blueberries, lost fewer brain cells and had an easier time when trying to move through a maze.
Fish and Omega-3 Fatty Acids
The fatty acids that are found in fish, have a direct correlation with improved memory (which is due to DHA). Oily fish are recommended, such as mackerel, salmon, and trout. It has been found that individuals who eat baked or broiled fish once a week, lowered their risk of developing Alzheimer’s.
Those that ate more fish, had more grey matter present in their brains (which was measured using M.R.I.). This does not include fried fish, as it doesn’t provide neuroprotective properties. Nuts and seeds (especially flaxseeds), are also a great source of omega-3 fatty acids.
In comparison to Western countries, India has a much lower rate of Alzheimer’s. This is believed to be linked to curry powder and the use of other beneficial spices. The primary ingredient in curry powder is turmeric, which contains the powerful antioxidant known as curcumin.
When Alzheimer’s patients were examined through autopsies, it was found that their brains contained thick clumps of amyloid (a protein). When studying curcumin, it was found that it binds to these proteins and prevents them from clumping together.
Eat Your Way to Healthy Brain Function
Although more research needs to be conducted, consuming a nutrient-rich diet can only benefit your health. Treat your mind and body right, and it will take care of you in return. Start connecting with your food, understanding how it affects your internal systems.
Stick to a whole food diet, dense in vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats. Your actions can help dictate your future. So, treat your brain right. Increase your whole food intake, eliminating processed and refined foods.
photo credit: Ruth and Dave via photopin cc
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