Nutrition tips for healthy brain aging
The brain requires a range of nutrients to function well and stay healthy. Unfortunately, Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia are common in aging. There are many steps that can be taken to boost brain health as we age, including following a healthy, balanced diet.
The risks of developing cognitive impairment in older age include family history, midlife hypertension, obesity, diabetes and high cholesterol.
Brain deterioration begins many years before the symptoms of dementia or Alzheimer’s appear, so looking after your brain health from an early age is important to prevent the onset of any problems.
Dietary fats form an important protective barrier around the brain. But the wrong types of dietary fats can damage the brain. Limit your intake of saturated and trans-fats (animal and processed foods – especially fried, fast foods and precooked packaged foods), and increase your intake of healthy fats such as fish, avocado, nuts, seeds, olive oil and coconut oil.
Oxidative stress places a burden on the brain and leads to cognitive impairment. The brain has the 3rd highest vitamin C content in the body, and it is vital to maintain adequate levels of vitamin C in your diet, along with other antioxidants, such as vitamin E and β-carotene. Antioxidants are found in high quantities in fruits and vegetables – especially those that are brightly coloured. Berries are an excellent source of antioxidants and are easy to add to your daily diet.
Other nutrients that have been found to lower the risk for cognitive decline include folate, vitamin B6, vitamin B12 and iron.
Eating a brain healthy diet from a young age can help to ensure that cognitive decline is kept at bay as you age.
Quick tip summary:
– Avoid highly processed foods
– Include a wide range of fruits and vegetables in your diet
– Reduce your intake of harmful fats and include a good variety of beneficial fats in your diet every day
– Increase physical activity – aim for a minimum of 30 minutes per day of moderate exercise