In the United States in 2020, the life expectancy is 78.93 years, which is a 0.08% increase from 2019. (1) I am an advocate for aging well. Advancing age is not a reason for poor health or cognitive decline. At 64, I am a full-time Charge Nurse, mother of an adult autistic son, a writer here at David’s Way and an avid, passionate heavy weight trainer. I do not have time for either physical or mental malady and actively pursue excellence in health in every area. I have heard the expression, “Divine Health” and I am in hot pursuit of just that. Nutrition is the foundation for a high functioning life in all areas. Although I work out with ardor, unless my nutrition is on spot, I will not accomplish my goals. Not only are abs made in the kitchen, for the most part, so is your brain.
While you should not eat more than your calorie allowance as recommended by your doctor, or the Calorie Counter Pro we need to eat enough whole foods to support our neurological system. I remember when my grandfather was living, throughout my life he severely restricted his nutrition. He would only eat a few foods. They were good choices but they were not adequate. He developed dementia in his 80’s and became mentally unstable. It was not Alzheimer’s Disease. There is good evidence that poor nutrition can negatively impact your brain health. (2) Think about how your car runs on good fuel and how it runs on bad fuel. In order to have a smooth running brain that can take us where we want to go, we must fuel accordingly. We must eat enough of the right foods to have optimum brain health into our old age.
The best dietary approach to fuel your brain is multi-faceted. Choose whole, healthy foods from different food groups. Avoid sugar and processed foods.
- Green leafy vegetables such as kale, spinach, collards and broccoli are rich in vitamin K, lutein, folate and beta carotene and may help slow cognitive decline.
- Fatty fish are great sources of omega-3 fatty acids that are believed to decrease beta-amyloid plaques that form damaging clumps in Alzheimer’s Disease. Try to eat fish at least twice per week. Salmon is an excellent choice. If you don’t like fish you might ask your doctor for an omega-3 supplement or choose flaxseeds, avocado and walnuts for your healthy fat.
- Berries help improve memory and have been observed to delay memory decline by as much as 2 1/2 years.
- Tea and coffee are credited with the ability to solidify new memories because of their caffeine content. The caffeine gives a quick burst of energy but also plays a larger part in memory retention.
- Walnuts are a good source of protein and healthy fats. They contain a specific healthy fat known as alpha-linoleic acid (ALA) which can lower the blood pressure and protect arteries which is good for the heart and the brain.
- Turmeric contains curcumin which has been shown to cross the blood-brain barrier. It is a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory and may benefit memory in Alzheimer’s patients. It may also help to clear the amyloid plaques that are present in this disease. It boosts serotonin and dopamine and improves mood and has been shown to alleviate depression in about six weeks. Curcumin also helps new brain cells grow and may delay age-related mental decline.
- Broccoli is rich in vitamin K that is necessary to form sphingolipids, the fat that’s densely packed into brain cells. It may help with memory and inflammation and reduce the destructive free radicals in the body and help protect the brain.
- Pumpkin Seeds are rich in zinc that is critical in nerve signaling. Zinc deficiency has been linked to many neurological conditions. They contain significant amounts of magnesium which is essential to learning.
- Oranges are a rich source of vitamin C which helps to defend the brain against free radical damage. You can get your daily allowance of vitamin C in one orange.
- Eggs are a wonderful source of choline which is very important in proper brain functioning and also positively impacts mood. Choline is necessary for acetylcholine in the brain which is deficient in Alzheimer’s Disease.
While these foods are great for memory and helping to protect the brain against cognitive decline, they also help to improve mood. Begin to be pro-active where your brain health is concerned and reap the rewards. Move into your senior years with excitement and anticipation of great things to come and always do your part to be the very best that you can be. With good brain health, you can truly live your entire life to your maximum potential. Clear your cabinets of junk foods, full of empty calories and sugars that cause brain inflammation and get sharper today.