Neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease impact millions of people worldwide with the incidence only expected to increase as the population gets older.
More and more research is proving that diet has a major impact on cognition and Nutritional Medicine is becoming widely accepted as an effective therapeutic intervention to address a vast array of neurodegenerative diseases.
High quality lipids (fats) are associated with a lower risk of developing dementia.
Consume fats that are rich in monounsaturated fat and polyunsaturated fat from olive oil, avocado, nuts, and seeds.
Olive oil is the main source of fat and contains tocopherols, polyphenols, and a balanced linoleic/alpha-linolenic acid profile, which can assist the immune system and most, if not all, inflammatory responses
Antioxidants in berries are thought to benefit brain function by protecting the brain from oxidative stress. (i.e., they stop you going rusty!) Compounds found in berries reduce inflammation that would otherwise damage the body’s nervous system, they are high in fibre which can aid digestive health, and a higher intake of flavonoids appears to reduce rates of cognitive decline in older adults. Other compounds like Vitamin E that are found in nuts, plant oils, seeds, and many leafy greens are a very potent antioxidant associated strongly with brain health. Vitamin C has also been found to help neurons cope with aging.
There are two main types of dietary fibre: soluble (provides food for healthy bacteria) and insoluble (which bulks up the stool to allow healthy bowel movements).
The main sources of soluble fibre are fruits and vegetables. Similarly, cereals and whole grain’s provide sources of insoluble fibre. However, most naturally available high-fibre foods contain variable amounts of both soluble and insoluble fibre. Include at least three servings of whole grains daily, green leafy vegetables, nuts, berries, and beans can provide up to 50 grams of fibre per day.Increased whole grain is linked to a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, respiratory disease, diabetes, and infectious disease.
This Roast-sweet-potato-and-lentils is a great dish to add to your meal plan as it contains 15 grams of fibre per serving.
Genetics, neurotransmitters, hormones, and experience all play a role in the aging brain. However, higher levels of education or occupational development may slow down brain aging. (Keep active!) Leading a healthy lifestyle including consuming good nutrition, low to moderate alcohol intake, and regular exercise exert a protective effect against brain aging.
Oxidative stress is a critical factor in the aging brain. The brain is especially vulnerable to oxidative stress compared to other organs. This is because it has a high-energy demand. The environmental factors of inflammation have been shown to accelerate aging and age-related diseases.
Food is consumed to not only provide the body with the energy and nutrients it requires; it also has a strong influence on digestive health. Many people make food choices that are detrimental, whether it is due to low nutrient content, high calories, excessive processing or food intolerances and allergies.
Maintaining the health of your heart and your circulatory system appears to be a key factor in protecting your mental capabilities
These brain-centred tips from the Alzheimer’s Association include:
- Keep learning. Continuing education can help reduce risk of brain decline and dementia.
- Remain social. People who have an active social life have been shown to have more active and healthy brains.
- Challenge your brain. Do something that requires thought, whether that is solving a puzzle, creating a piece of art, building something for your home, or playing a game that forces you to think strategically.
Engage in regular physical activity. Several studies have linked exercise to reduced risk of brain decline.
Quit smoking. Smoking increases risk of brain decline, and quitting can reduce a smoker’s risk down to levels comparable to people who have never smoked.
Treat conditions that can affect heart health. Chronic problems like obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes take a toll on your brain as well as your heart.
Get enough sleep. Studies have linked sleeplessness with problems in memory and thinking.
Maintain your mental health. Depression, anxiety, and stress can speed a person’s brain aging if they are left untreated. “We know that stress hormones, when produced in excess, causes the brain to shrink more rapidly.
Protect your head. Brain injuries as mild as a concussion can increase risk of brain decline and dementia. Wear a seat belt, use a helmet when on a bike or playing contact sports, and try to avoid falls.
Eat a healthy low-fat diet that’s rich in fruits and vegetables. A good diet can help address nearly all chronic illnesses, and therefore will ultimately help your brain. “Diet clearly impacts not only our risk of developing cognitive [brain] disturbances, but also affects our longevity,” I think we’re going to see more and more in terms of dietary interventions that are going to impact the aging process.”
If you or anyone you know needs help reach out to the Clinic on 61866045/ or book your appointment here for new patients.