How a Healthy Diet Can Maintain Brain Health


How a Healthy Diet Can Maintain Brain Health

Did you know that eating olive oil and nuts can enhance your memory and information processing? Did you know that eating blueberries can make you less susceptible to Alzheimer’s Disease? 

While these may seem like far-fetched ideas, research clearly shows that what you eat can have a major impact on your brain.  In one study, researchers even found that people who ate one to two servings of green leafy vegetables every day were cognitively 11 years younger than those who ate fewer greens!

Curious to know more? Read on. Then grab a pen, and add the following foods to your next shopping list. 

Free-radical fighters

Free radical damage accumulates with age.  But antioxidants help neutralize free radicals. Studies have shown that the total amount of antioxidants in the food one eats has less of an impact than the amount of antioxidants from specific foods. Some of the most potent antioxidants that help repair tissues, cells, and DNA that has been damaged by free radicals can be found in: 

  • Blueberries
  • Strawberries 
  • Acai berries

Neuron protectors

In Alzheimer’s Disease, neurons begin to die. This leads to cognitive deterioration.  But Vitamin E is a potent antioxidant that can help protect the neurons. Foods high in Vitamin E include: 

  • Vegetable oil-based salad dressings
  • Seeds and nuts
  • Peanut butter
  • Whole grains
  • Avocado
  • Kale*
  • Collard Greens*
  • Spinach*
  • Broccoli*

*These green foods also contain folate. Folate helps lower homocysteine levels (an amino acid that at high levels may trigger the death of nerve cells in the brain). 

Brain boosters

Research has shown that the omega-3 fatty acid DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) is critical to brain development and functioning throughout a person’s life. Adults battling psychiatric and neurological ailments such as depression, PTSD, and Alzheimer’s are encouraged to pay special attention to their DHA intake. Omega-3 oils also decrease inflammation that can damage the brain. Foods high in DHA include: 

  • Salmon
  • Mackerel
  • Tuna

Amyloid plaque fighters

Your brain needs amyloid for brain cells to communicate. But when amyloid accumulates far beyond normal levels, it forms plaque that kills neurons.  The amyloid plaques also create inflammation, which kills even more neurons. Foods that fight amyloid plaques include: 

  • Nuts (especially walnuts)
  • Curcumin
  • Pomegranates

And more!

Some foods help the brain from other angles.  For example, increased blood flow in the brain promotes neuron grown in the area of the brain associated with learning and memory.  Foods that help with blood flow include:

  • Beets
  • Tomatoes
  • Avocados

Fight cognitive decline

By now, you’re probably convinced that the foods mentioned above can help your brain stay sharp.  Keep your notes so you can refer to them when you’re shopping. But also remember these general rules for eating to fight cognitive decline: 

  • Maintain a plant-based eating pattern 
    • Lots of fruits and vegetables
    • Lots of dark, leafy greens 
  • Avoid trans fats
    • Fried foods 
    • Fast food
    • Chips
    • Donuts
    • Pastries
  • Eat minimal amounts of saturated fats
    • Beef
    • Veal
    • Lamb
    • Pork
    • Whole milk dairy products
  • Eat foods high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats
    • Nuts
    • Vegetable oils
    • Fish

We’re serious about nutrition

At Bella Vista Health Center in Lemon Grove, we approach patient care from all angles, including nutrition. Every meal we make is made with love and with a clear understanding of the role nutrition plays in the health of our patients.  Our goal is to rehabilitate every single one of our patients and get them back to their personal best.

If you are in need of rehabilitation, or if a loved one requires a nurturing atmosphere for short- or long-term care, please give us a call or stop by.  Compassionate care. That’s what we’re here for.