The Connection Between Diet And Brain Health

A varied, nutrient-rich diet is important not only for maintaining a healthy weight but also for supporting a healthy brain. Maintaining cognitive function – the ability to think, reason and remember – is critical to aging well, and consuming a healthy diet can help reduce the risk of certain diseases that contribute to cognitive decline. In fact, studies show that following a “brain healthy” diet can not only maintain, but actually boost cognitive function. 

Cognitive Function and Age

In addition to the cognitive functions listed above, a healthy brain is directly responsible for many other aspects of living a long and fulfilling life. The brain controls motor functions (the ability to make and control movements), sensory functions (the ability to utilize the senses of smell, sight, hearing and touch) as well as the ability to interpret and respond to and emotions. A certain amount of cognitive decline often occurs with age, but this can often be mitigated through diet. 

Fuel for The Brain 

The brain controls every aspect of one’s life, so it’s very important to supply it with high-quality fuel. A diet that is very high in sugar and/or processed foods results in the emission of oxidative waste (also called “free radicals”) which can damage brain cells when the body uses oxygen, cause inflammation and affect the body’s ability to regulate insulin. Conversely, fueling the body with foods that are rich in nutrients, vitamins and minerals, helps to foster an environment conducive to proper brain function. Several medical experts have noted that what is good for the heart (in terms of nutrition) also appears to be good for the brain. Two diets that are generally regarded as being good lifestyle choices for brain health are the Mediterranean Diet and the Memory Preservation Nutrition Diet.

Consuming a nutrient-rich diet can also have a big impact on overall well-being and even regulate mood and anxiety. It can improve self-esteem, provide a boost of energy and also help toward maintaining a healthy weight. A wholesome diet can help reduce the risk of certain health conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and high blood pressure, all of which can negatively affect brain function.

The Brain Diet

Here are some general dietary guidelines to follow for cognitive health:

  • Cut out processed foods that are high in fat and sugar. 
  • Eat plenty of whole grains. 
  • Add more nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables to meals and snacks. 
  • Focus on eating lean proteins and limit red meat consumption. 
  • Increase consumption of Omega-3 rich fish, such as salmon. 
  • Season meals with anti-inflammatory spices like cinnamon, turmeric and ginger. 
  • Enjoy a limited amount of coffee every day. In moderate amounts, coffee has been shown to reduce the effects of dementia
  • Talk to your doctor about supplements that may be beneficial for you. 
  • Incorporate the following “brain-boosting” foods into your diet:
    • blueberries
    • broccoli
    • dark chocolate
    • nuts
    • pumpkin seeds
    • eggs
    • oranges

Plush Mills offers fine dining and flexible meal plans, complete with delicious and nutritious meals prepared by our talented chefs. We offer comprehensive wellness care along with a host of lifestyle and fitness programs designed to help our residents live their best lives. Schedule a virtual tour today to learn more about our community.