Jeffrey Burns, co-director of the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center at the University of Kansas, said that while more research is needed, “there is a lot of data to suggest that exercise and diet are good for the brain and can prevent or slow cognitive changes.” talk. fairway.
And living a healthy lifestyle benefits your brain at any age.
There’s good news for people who already eat in a heart-protective way, including plenty of whole grains, vegetables, and fruits, and less saturated fat, sodium, and ultra-processed “junk” foods. It also protects the brain. . A healthy cardiovascular system keeps blood vessels open, allowing good blood flow to the brain and reducing the risk of high blood pressure, stroke, and dementia.
Research suggests two specific dietary approaches: the Mediterranean diet and the Mediterranean diet. mind diet (Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Delaying Neurodegeneration, essentially combining two heart-healthy meal plans) – May help prevent cognitive decline. Both diets rely on eating primarily plant foods (fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts), olive oil, fish, and poultry. The main difference between the two is that the MIND diet emphasizes certain fruits and vegetables, such as berries and leafy greens.
Research shows that people who follow either diet most closely have a lower risk of dementia than those who don’t. For example, people who followed a Mediterranean diet had a 23 percent lower risk of dementia over nine years. A study of more than 60,000 men and women was published this year in BMC Medicine..
of Original MIND diet researchA study published in 2015 and still ongoing by researchers at Chicago’s Rush University found that older adults who followed their diets the most closely had a 53 percent lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Even those who practiced the MIND diet in moderation reduced their risk by 35%.
“Focusing on just one food won’t magically improve your cognitive function,” says Puja Agarwal, assistant professor at the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center. “We found that it’s the food combinations that are more associated with overall brain health.” Still, from a healthy eating standpoint, incorporating the following into your diet regularly may provide additional brain protection.
Healthy fats: Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, found in foods such as avocados, olives, nuts, seeds, and olive oil, protect against heart disease and stroke, which are risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease. Omega-3 fatty acids, a type of polyunsaturated fat found in seafood, walnuts, chia seeds, and flaxseed, may slow brain aging.
“Some studies have shown that consuming omega-3 fatty acids. [in food] “It may help lower levels of beta-amyloid, a protein that forms harmful clumps in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients,” says Lauren J. Gleason, an assistant professor at the University of Chicago Medicine.
Berry: All berries contain flavonoids, which are powerful antioxidant compounds.Big 2021 study published in Neurology, found that those with the highest intakes of flavonoids were 19 percent less likely to self-report cognitive decline than those with lower intakes of flavonoid-rich foods. Berries in particular appear to protect brain cells from damage caused by oxidative stress and help improve memory, Gleason said. (Tea and dark chocolate also contain flavonoids.)
Leafy vegetables: “Green leafy vegetables are powerful, nutritious foods,” says Agarwal. “They contain carotenoids, vitamin K, and flavonoids, which have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.” Agarwal led. Recent MIND diet research They found that people who ate leafy greens seven or more times a week (half a cup cooked or one cup raw) had amyloid plaque levels similar to those 19 years younger.
beans: Beans are rich in dietary fiber. Each (cooked) cup contains 16 grams of lentils, about 13 grams of chickpeas, and 11 grams of green beans. (The daily intake is 28 grams.) A 2022 Research on the elderly in the American Medical Journal They found that as fiber intake increased, scores on brain function tests that measure information processing, attention, and memory also increased. (Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are also good sources of fiber.) “Eating enough fiber helps maintain a healthy weight, balance blood sugar levels, and improve heart health.” It also helps, all of which are related to cognitive health,” says Gleason.
fiber It may help your brain in an unusual way. Supports the health of the microbiome, a collection of good bacteria that lives in the digestive system. It’s important to have enough of these good bacteria because their activity produces short-chain fatty acids that communicate with other parts of the body, including the brain. Burns said the microbiome composition of Alzheimer’s patients has been shown to be different from that of people without Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers are investigating whether the balance of bacteria in the gut is a cause or a consequence of disease. If that’s the cause, changing your microbiome may be beneficial.
egg: Egg yolks are rich in choline, a nutrient important for memory and other brain functions.in 2019 study of nearly 500 men, published in American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found that every 50 milligrams of a type of choline called phosphatidylcholine consumed per day reduced the risk of dementia by 10 percent. The main source of phosphatidylcholine in the diet of men was eggs. A large egg contains 168 mg of choline, about 70 percent of which is phosphatidylcholine.
foods bad for the brain
You should also make sure to limit foods that are known to interfere with cognitive health.One way to do this is to reduce your intake highly processed foods. These are foods that contain ingredients such as high fructose corn syrup, emulsifiers, colorants, flavors, preservatives, or are high in added sugar or sodium. Examples include soda, packaged bread and baked goods, sweet cereals, and deli meats.
It was found that consuming just 20% of your calories from highly processed foods led to a 28% faster decline in cognitive function compared to eating less.That’s according to eight years of research. Study of more than 10,000 men and women aged 35 to 74, published in JAMA Neurology in 2023.
another Research published in neurology journalfound that people over the age of 55 who eat highly processed meals are about 25 percent more likely to develop dementia than those who eat very little of these foods.
But there was also good news. Over a 10-year study, people who reduced their intake of highly processed foods by 10 percent were 19 percent less likely to develop dementia.
Regular physical activity can improve brain health in a variety of ways, most notably by reducing risk factors for dementia such as diabetes and heart disease.a Analysis of 21 studies in 2023 published in International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, concluded that exercise (both aerobic exercise and strength training) improves cognitive function in older adults, regardless of current cognitive status. Researchers speculate that physical activity helps by promoting the growth of new neurons and blood vessels in the brain, fighting inflammation, and improving plasticity, the brain’s ability to change and adapt.
The World Health Organization recommends 150 to 300 minutes of aerobic exercise, such as walking, cycling, and swimming, and at least two sessions of strength training per week.
“Activities that involve learning specific sequences of movements may be particularly beneficial in slowing the progression of dementia in people with mild cognitive impairment,” Gleason says.a A small study of older adults with the disease was published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Diet in 2020., found that those who performed choreographed aerobic dance (twice a week for 1 hour for 12 weeks) improved their verbal recognition memory more than those who performed physical therapy exercises. Activities such as dancing and tai chi also challenge balance abilities, which decline with age and the onset of dementia.
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