Nutrition plays an important role in supporting all body systems as we age. Calcium and vitamin D help maintain bone strength, fiber-rich foods support digestive and heart health, and potassium reduces the risk of hypertension. In addition, eating the right foods provides the brain with the vitamins and minerals it needs for optimal function. Consider incorporating these four brain foods into your diet to support memory and cognition.
Fatty fish like haddock, salmon, cod, halibut, and tuna are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. These substances do not occur naturally in the body but are critical for brain development and function. They exist in the membranes between brain cells, helping the cells send messages and maintaining nervous system health. The American Heart Association recommends that adults eat 6 to 8 ounces of fatty fish each week (two to three servings). Low levels of omega-3s have been associated with brain aging.
Berries are an integral part of the MIND diet (Mediterranean-DASH-diet Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay), which was created by researchers at Rush University Medical Center to support brain health. It combines features of the Mediterranean-style diet and Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH).
A landmark clinical trial called the Nurses’ Health Study found that women older than 70 who ate a lot of berries had a cognitive age about 2.5 years younger than women who did not eat berries. Blueberries, raspberries, and other varieties contain antioxidants called phytonutrients that improve brain cell signaling, support cognition, and slow brain aging.
These smooth, creamy delicacies are loaded with healthy monounsaturated fat. Unlike saturated fat, which clogs the arteries and raises the risk for stroke and heart attack, this type of fat improves blood flow to the brain. This is a necessity for healthy brain function.
Oats, quinoa, barley, and other whole grains are full of B vitamins, which reduce inflammation in the brain. Some studies, such as one cited in a 2012 issue of Journal of Neuroscience Nursing (Sartori, Vance, Slate, and Crowe), link reduced inflammation to the preservation of memory.
Take time to educate your aging loved ones on healthy foods that can help their cognitive function. If you’re curious about the benefits of memory care for a family member or loved one, contact Heritage at Framingham. Call us at 508.788.6050 or contact us to schedule a tour.