There is no single ‘must have’ food to prevent memory impairment but there are some important dietary tips that can help seniors maintain a healthy memory. Dietary patterns have long been associated with cognitive decline and reducing the risk of dementia. Researchers have now suggested that those who follow the MIND diet can lower their dementia risk by as much as 50%. MIND stands for Mediterranean- DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay. The MIND diet includes two proven diets – DASH and Mediterranean – and zeroes in on the foods in each that specifically affect brain health.
Here are 10 foods you should add into your diet that can help improve your mind:
1) Green leafy vegetables: These include spinach, kale, collard, mustard greens, turnip greens and green salad. These foods are high in folate and B9, which improve cognition and reduce depression. At least six servings of green leafy vegetables should be consumed a week. Cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower, broccoli, bokchoy, brussels sprouts and kale are high in vitamin C and soluble fiber and contain multiple nutrients. Broccoli has been strongly linked with lower levels of cognitive decline in older age. It is great source of vitamin K, which is known to enhance cognitive function and improve brainpower. This should be consumed at least once a day.
2) Beans and legumes: These foods contain more folate, iron, magnesium and potassium that can help with general body function and neuron firing. They also contain choline, a B vitamin that boosts acetylcholine (a neuro transmitter critical for brain function). They should be consumed at least three servings a week.
3) Whole grains: Like everything else in your body, the brain cannot work without energy. The ability to concentrate and focus comes from the adequate, steady supply of energy – in the form of glucose in our blood to the brain. This is possible by choosing whole grains with a low-GI, which release glucose slowly into the bloodstream, keeping one mentally alert throughout the day. Opt for ‘brown’ cereals, wheat bran, granary bread, quinoa, kammut, gluten – free oats and brown pasta. This should be consumed for three or more servings a day.
4) Omega 3s: People whose diets contain daily omega 3s have been shown to have 26% less risk of having brain lesions that cause dementia compared with those who do not. These fatty acids help the brain to stay in top shape. You can get your omega fatty acids from fish, flax seeds or by taking a good quality omega 3 supplements. Fish should be consumed once a week.
5) Berries and cherries: These fruits contain anthocyanin that protects the brain from further damage caused by free radicals. They also have anti-inflammatory properties and contain antioxidants and lots of vitamin C and E. They should be consumed for two or more servings a week.
6) Cinnamon, sage, turmeric and cumin: Theses spices can all help to break up brain plaque and reduce inflammation of the brain which can cause memory issues. Turmeric could help prevent Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and stroke due to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, research suggests. Cinnamon has reduced brain plaque found in Alzheimer’s disease and helped reverse mental decline in animal studies of the disease.
7) Almonds, cashews, walnuts, hazelnuts, peanuts and pecans: All of these nuts contain omega- 3s and omega-6s, vitamin E, folate, vitamin B6 and magnesium. These should be consumed for five servings a week.
8) Olive oil: Use it as your main cooking oil. Olive oil nutrition data shows that it’s a good source of vitamins E which prevents mental decline and vitamin K. Vitamin E, especially in the presence of vitamin C, works to maintain a good memory, slow memory loss, and significantly reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia. Vitamin E can minimize the damage caused by a stroke by redirecting blood supply after the event.
9) Add vitality with vitamins: Certain B vitamins – B6, B12 and folic acid – are known to reduce levels of homocysteine in the blood. Elevated levels of homocysteine are associated with increased risk of stroke, cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease.
10) Pumpkin seeds: Just a handful of pumpkin seeds a day is all one needs to get recommended daily amount of zinc, vital for enhancing memory and thinking skills. The food items which should be avoided are Red meat, Butter and margarine, Cheese, Pastries and sweets, Fried or fast food in order to have healthy brain. Following the above do’s and don’ts in our diet, it may come together to prevent the brain from shrinking as we age.
Samvedna Senior Activity Centre in Sector 57, Gurgaon offers seniors a space to nourish their mind, body and soul, participate in purposeful and recreational activities, interact socially and unwind.
The Memory Clinic programme at the centre is designed to give seniors with some special needs an environment where they can relax and interact with their peer group. They will be actively engaged in activities that stimulate the mind, reminiscence therapies, art and craft, dance, music and other excersizes that help them relax and rejuvenate. Know more here – http://samvednacare.com/gurgaon-activity-centre