More and more research studies suggest a connection between healthy diet and brain health, but new research shows evidence that what we eat as we age may need to change. It has been found that a high intake of fruit and vegetables was associated with lowered odds of memory loss and heart disease. Increased intake of foods high in protein was linked with a better memory.
One of the main early symptoms in individuals with dementia is memory loss. Those living with dementia have between two and eight other health conditions or diseases, which may exacerbate cognitive and functional impairment. Diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease are the most common health conditions in dementia. Older populations often deal with multiple chronic conditions at once, which can make nutritional intervention challenging. Scientific evidence suggests dietary intervention in the prevention and management of such co-existing chronic diseases.
While US Dietary Guidelines don’t focus specifically on various age groups, dietitians working with older individuals (over 80) may suggest the following:
- Eat green leafy vegetables daily- research from Rush university suggests 1 serving of leafy vegetables (1/2 cup cooked or 1 cup raw) has been found to reduce memory loss and improve cognition and slow brain aging by 11 years.
- Add blueberries to your daily diet. Anthocyanins in blueberries have been found to reduce inflammation and increase neural signaling. 5
- Include foods containing omega-3-fatty acids regularly such as salmon and walnuts. Both reduce inflammation and are heart-healthy. More research on omega-3-fatty acid supplements is needed. 6
- Choose low-sugar whole grain cereal such as rolled oats, quinoa or bran cereal which provide fiber to reduce risk of cardiovascular disease 3
- Reduce red meat, processed meat (such as deli meat), high sugar, high fat desserts and beverages.
So remember, high intake of fruit and vegetables has been associated with lowered odds of memory loss and heart disease. Prevention is always the key to better health.
DISCLAIMER: These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. The information is for informational purposes and is not intended to treat, diagnose or cure any illness. Consult a physician before taking any action.
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