Protecting our memories from leaving us is something most of us want to do, but how?
As many as a third of adults suffering from loss of memory or dementia do so as a result of lifestyle factors rather than genetic mutations, according to researchers.
That means that we can do things to impact our brain health.
Eating better will help you hold on to your health, including your memory.
Starting early with changes in the foods you put on your plate can help you age with as many of your cherished memories intact as possible!
Brain Health and Diet
In addition to other healthy lifestyle changes, such as heart health strategies, physical fitness, and mental stimulation, what we eat can affect our brain health.
Eating foods high in fat has been found to increase beta-amyloid plaques in the brain. These protein plaques are thought to damage the brains of people who have Alzheimer’s disease.
One study, conducted by researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, found that women who ate certain quantities of saturated fat from red meat and butter performed worse on tests that challenged their thinking and memory compared to women who ate smaller quantities of the same foods.
The buildup of cholesterol plaques in the blood vessels of the brain can damage brain tissue according to these researchers. It appears the lack of oxygen supplied to brain tissue affects the memory.
6 Foods to Avoid
The more we learn about the health of our brains, the more we realize that what is good for the heart is good for the brain.
Circulation of blood, oxygen, nutrients, and the removal of waste products can be impaired in the brain in much the same process as when our arteries become clogged with lipid plaques. The blood vessels of our brains can be impeded by plaque which puts us at risk for neuron damage.
Some of the foods that can put our brains at risk for damage that can’t be undone (similar to our heart) are:
- Added sugars in foods such as soda and sweetened tea
- Processed meats like bacon, sausage, bologna and hot dogs
- Red meat
- Trans fats or hydrogenated oils, which are still found in many manufactured baked goods. No more than 1% of your daily calories come from trans-fat according to the American Heart Association guidelines.
- Refined, processed foods that have been stripped of their nutritional value
- Butter or stick margarine should be limited to less than a tablespoon a day and substitute with healthy oil as often as possible
What Should You Eat?
There is a meal plan that combines the best of the Mediterranean diet and the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet called the MIND (Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay) diet.
Research has shown that even when one doesn’t strictly adopt this eating pattern, benefits can still be obtained. Obviously, the more closely you follow the plan, the more benefit you will realize.
This way of eating healthy foods includes:
- fresh berries (especially those with anthocyanins, like blueberries)
- nuts (including almonds, walnuts, and hazelnuts)
- leafy green vegetables (one salad and one other vegetable each day)
- whole grains (such as whole wheat, brown rice, oats, and quinoa)
- olive oil
- fish (omega-3 containing such as salmon at least once each week)
- beans (three times each week)
- poultry (two or more servings each week)
- one glass of wine a day, with dinner preferably
- red meat
- processed foods, including white flour
- sugary foods
- fried foods
- high fat dairy, including whole fat cheese
Choosing your foods more wisely now can have a real impact on your brain health now and as you age.
Your mind is a terrible thing to waste as they used to say, but it is also terrible thing to lose when you can prevent damage with just a few simple changes in your menu!