It’s no secret that what you eat directly affects your physical and mental health as well as your general well-being. Recent studies also suggest that one’s diet plays an equally integral role in brain health. Gene Bowman, a scientist at Oregon Health and Science University, found that people in their late 80s who ate diets rich in vitamins B, C, D and E, scored higher on cognitive tests than those who were deficient in these vitamins. A few, simple changes to one’s diet can boost the intake levels of these important vitamins.
Here are a few suggestions:
- Citrus Fruits – Citrus fruits are extremely rich in vitamin C, an antioxidant that improves blood vessel function and skin health. Additionally, a recent study revealed that vitamin C helps to dissolve plaque build-up in the brain, which has been linked to Alzheimer’s.
- Almonds – Vitamin E, a naturally occurring antioxidant found in nuts, has also been linked with lowering an individual’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s. Similar to vitamin C, vitamin E promotes healthy blood vessels that produce oxygen rich blood, crucial to a healthy mind.
- Fish – Over the past several decades, scientists have closely studied the beneficial effects linked to omega-3 fatty acids that can be found in oily cold-water fish such as salmon and herring. A balanced diet that includes omega-3 fatty acids decreases inflammation in the body and enhances heart function.
- Coffee – For all of you coffee lovers, numerous studies have touted the health benefits of a daily cup of joe. A 2009 University of South Florida study demonstrated that caffeinated coffee reduced levels of plaque forming protein which causes cognitive impairment associated with Alzheimer’s. Interestingly, decaffeinated coffee does not have the same effect.
While all the foods mentioned above are helpful in preventing the onset of dementia, they are just one piece of the larger puzzle. Lifestyle behaviors and genetics also factor into the equation, but being mindful of the foods you eat is an important step in your preventative plan.