Brain Foods to Incorporate Into Your DietJuly 5, 2023
Cognitive decline is an unfortunate, common problem. While roughly 10% of older adults have dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, an additional 22% of seniors experience some form of cognitive impairment in their lives. This comes out to roughly two in 10 seniors.
Genetic predisposition can’t be changed, but there are certain things everyone can do to protect their cognitive health as they age. In previous blogs, we’ve touched on mentally stimulating activities that are great for seniors, but protecting one’s cognitive health goes further than brain games. The food you eat can have an impact too. Try these brain foods to incorporate into your diet to help improve brain function.
What are the most important nutrients to brain health?
For optimal health, your brain needs specific vitamins, minerals, and fats. In their own ways, these nutrients help essential functions function properly so you thrive.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3s do a little bit of everything. This nutrient provides calories that convert into energy, which supports the heart, lungs, immune system, blood vessels, and hormone-producing glands. They may also reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
Vitamin B6 maintains normal levels of homocysteine, which is linked to the development of Alzheimer’s disease. It also helps synthesize dopamine and serotonin, which are related to pleasure and motivation.
Best known for its necessary part in protein metabolism, Vitamin B12 is also important for red blood cell production and maintaining the nervous system. The B vitamins in particular are beneficial to one’s brain health.
Vitamin K is an anti-inflammatory nutrient that helps brain cells multiply. Knowing this, several different researchers have found a correlation between Vitamin K levels and cognitive performance.
Brain foods to incorporate into your diet
When one is considering the brain foods they should incorporate into their diet, remember these four key nutrients. As a general rule of thumb, foods that are high in one, or several, of these vitamins or fats will be beneficial to your brain health. To help boost your cognitive health, start by adding these foods to your meals.
Leafy green vegetables
Leafy greens are fantastic for your overall health, and that includes your brain. Rich in beta carotene, vitamin E (which protects against free-radical damage), and vitamin K, greens have been implicated to prevent memory loss and improve cognition. You can increase your leafy green intake with more than just salads too. Throw them into a smoothie, soup, or stir-fry.
A few examples of leafy greens include:
- Collard greens
Fatty fishes offer one of the best sources of omega-3s possible. In addition to potentially warding off dementia diseases, low levels of omega-3 are linked to learning impairments and depression. In addition, eating more seafood is associated with lowering one’s risk of heart disease and arthritis. A few examples of fatty fish include:
For a sweeter addition to your diet, try berries. These colorful little fruits are high in flavonoid antioxidants, which help reduce inflammation and oxidative stress that contribute to age-related cognitive decline. Many are also high in crucial vitamins such as K and C, as well as minerals like manganese.
A few examples of berries that are great for your brain health include:
Coffee and tea
Though this doesn’t necessarily include the above nutrients, both coffee and certain types of tea are shown to have a positive impact on one’s cognition. This is due to not only the antioxidants in the drink, but the caffeine. If you drink coffee, you already know that caffeine boosts alertness and sharpens your concentration, but it also supports your brain health. Those who drink a few cups of coffee a day have a lower risk of developing neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.
Nuts are fairly well-known as a great source of heart-healthy snacking, and is linked to brain health. A variety of nuts contain key nutrients such as healthy fats, antioxidants, and vitamin E, all of which can help slow mental decline. A few examples of nuts to try include:
- Walnuts (high in omega-3s!)
For help with healthy eating, consider home care
Many seniors want to eat healthier, but don’t have the energy or desire to cook like they used to. Don’t let this get in the way of your health. Hire the support of an at-home caregiver. These professionals can assist with any home care services you require, from meal preparation, to laundry, to personal care.
For 30 years, Home Care Powered by AUAF has helped seniors age in the comfort of their own homes. Over the past three decades, we have supported thousands of seniors and their families through what can be a difficult time. With our caregivers’ support, seniors never have to worry about their needs going unnoticed. They are always in good hands.
To learn more about our services, give us a call at 773-274-9262.
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