December 6, 2018
Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are thought to be caused by a combination of genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors including diet and nutrition. Health conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and obesity may also contribute to cognitive decline, and are often affected by the foods you eat. Practicing good nutrition and eating lots of healthy foods is shown to help reduce your risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease as you become older.
Here are 7 foods that can fight off cognitive decline and help you stay healthy as you age:
1. Leafy Greens
Kale, collard greens, spinach, and Swiss chard are just some leafy greens high in essential B vitamins like folate and B9 that can help reduce depression, while also boosting cognition. Instead of just eating leafy greens in salads, add these powerhouse vegetables to soups, stews, and chilis; you can also puree them and add to sauces, pesto, and hummus.
Raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, and cherries all contain a flavonoid called anthocyanin that stops the progression of brain damage triggered by free radicals. These and other berries are also packed with antioxidants and a wealth of vitamins that help reduce inflammation and help you maintain good brain health.
Pecans, almonds, walnuts, cashews, and peanuts are loaded with healthy fats, magnesium, vitamin E, and B vitamins — all of which are shown to promote good cognition and ward off signs of dementia. Women over the age of 70 who consume at least 5 servings of nuts per week are shown to have significantly better brain health than women in the same age group who don’t eat nuts. Another study shows that the anti-inflammatory phytochemicals in English walnuts can reduce inflammation of brain cells to maintain optimal brain health throughout the aging process.
Olive oil, flax seeds, and fatty fish like tuna, salmon, and mackerel are examples of foods high in omega-3 fatty acids with DHA that helps your brain stay healthy. Many studies prove that omega-3s are effective at fighting and preventing dementia and recommend taking 200 mg of DHA daily to achieve good brain health. However, the average daily intake of DHA in the U.S. is estimated to be only about 80 mg. Make a conscious effort to consume higher amounts of omega-3s or ask your doctor to recommend safe, effective DHA supplements.
5. Cruciferous Vegetables
Broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, and other cruciferous vegetables are high in B vitamins and carotenoids that have the ability to reduce levels of homocysteine — an amino acid linked to cognitive decline, brain atrophy, and dementia. Try sautéing cruciferous vegetables in garlic and olive oil or sneak these superfoods into smoothies, soups, and condiments.
Spices like sage, cumin, and cinnamon taste great when used to season meals and they also contain lots of polyphenols — compounds that offer numerous benefits for memory and brain health. Spices such as these have the ability to eat away at brain plaque and reduce inflammation to prevent cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s. Start filling your spice rack with a variety of spices that can liven up your meals, while also keeping your brain healthy.
Sunflower seeds, flax seeds, and pumpkin seeds all contain antioxidants and nutrients like vitamin E, zinc, omega-3s, and choline that reduce cognitive decline. Snack on these seeds by themselves, sprinkle on salads, or sneak them into desserts like pudding and muffins to benefit from improved brain health.
Foods That Are Risk Factors for Alzheimer’s
Many foods in the Western diet have been identified as risk factors for dementia and Alzheimer’s, including red and processed meats, refined grains, sweets, and desserts. Excess alcohol intake, saturated fatty acids, and foods with a high number of calories are also risk factors for Alzheimer’s. If you think that you or a loved one may be at risk for Alzheimer’s, work with your doctor on developing a healthier diet and nutrition plan that greatly reduces the risk.
Healthcare Associates of Texas offer memory loss treatments that may help improve or reduce the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Request an appointment today to begin the treatment process and benefit from improved overall brain health.