Food for Thought: Diet Choices Linked to Brain Health

Do your snacking habits affect brain health? Could your diet choices help to reduce (or elevate) your risk for diseases like Alzheimer’s? As the prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease continues to rise (more than 5 millions Americans have a diagnosis), many have been intrigued by these questions. Unfortunately, there is no proven method for preventing Alzheimer’s disease and the research into its prevention is lacking. However, an emerging body of scientific research indicates that certain food choices may be conducive to a healthy brain.

Ever heard the axiom “healthy mind, healthy body”? It’s often true! Hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol, and other chronic diseases have been associated with an increased risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia. These diseases are harmful to the blood vessels in the body, and they can ultimately cause a lack of blood flow to the brain.

Want to ensure that your diet will protect your body and your mind? Adhering to a heart healthy food selection, like the Mediterranean diet, may help.

mcdc6_pyramid_mediterranean

The benefits of diet on heart health are already well-documented, and many researchers believe that these same disease fighting foods can be beneficial in protecting the brain. The studies conducted on this subject have yielded promising results, however, more research must continue in order to learn more about effective prevention strategies for Alzheimer’s.

Don’t forget, aging doesn’t start when we reach 65. It’s happening to us all the time, everyday! Commit to a healthy lifestyle long-term, and you will be more likely to stave off chronic diseases, like Alzheimer’s. Life is a marathon, not a sprint!

grocery store

Want to give it a spin? Below is a sample grocery list that reflects adherence to the Mediterranean diet. The most effective eating plan is one that works with your preferences and lifestyle. Experiment with foods that are most appealing to you and enjoy!

  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Eggplant
  • Tomatoes
  • Almonds
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Celery
  • Carrots
  • Salmon
  • Brown rice
  • Whole wheat bread
  • Olive oil
  • Red wine
  • Blueberries
  • Strawberries
  • Bananas
  • Tilapia
  • Basil
  • Oregano
  • Black beans
  • Cannellini beans
  • Whole wheat pasta
  • Tomato sauce
  • Bell peppers
  • Zucchini

References

http://www.alz.org/we_can_help_adopt_a_brain_healthy_diet.asp

Arntzen, K. B. (2011). Impact of cardiovascular risk factors on cognitive function: The Tromsø study. European Journal Of Neurology18(5), 737-743.

Boost your memory by eating right. (2012). Harvard Women’s Health Watch19(12), 1-7.

Féart, C., Samieri, C., Rondeau, V., Amieva, H., Portet, F., Dartigues, J., & … Barberger-Gateau, P. (2009). Adherence to a Mediterranean diet, cognitive decline, and risk of dementia. JAMA: Journal Of The American Medical Association302(6), 638-648. doi:10.1001/jama.2009.1146

Mediterranean diet associated with lower risk of cognitive impairment. (2009). Nurse Prescribing7(3), 134.

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