Just like your body, your mind can benefit from a good diet and an active lifestyle. A great brain workout like crossword puzzles and brain teasers can help keep the mind sharp but in addition to this, your diet can play a great role in warding off memory loss.
Interestingly, the same factors that boost your risk for heart disease – high blood pressure, poorly controlled blood sugar, and high cholesterol – are also linked to a greater likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia.
So if you stop and think about it, the nutritional strategies that we would use to keep our heart and blood vessels healthy may also help preserve our memory as we age. Here are some of those nutritional strategies:
Reduce saturated fat and Trans fats intake
Studies show that people who have higher intakes of saturated fat and animal fat have a two to three fold higher risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
Choose leaner cuts of meat, poultry breast, and low fat dairy products (including low-fat and fat-free milk). Choose more unsaturated fats like olive oil, canola oil, flax oil, avocado and nuts to get these heart healthy fats in your diet.
Eat more fish
Several studies have reported a lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease and cognitive decline in older adults who eat fish at least twice a week. Oily fish, specifically salmon, sardines, herring, trout, and mackerel are all excellent sources of DHA – an omega-3 fat that helps keep the brain lining flexible so messages can easily pass between cells.
Eat more vegetables, especially green leafy ones
Studies have found that those who eat more than two servings of vegetables every day (versus less than one serving) have a significantly slower rate of cognitive decline. Leafy vegetables like Kale, Swiss chard and spinach offer the greatest protection, which is likely due to their vitamin E content.
Boost B vitamin foods
Folate and vitamin B12 are very important to help keep blood levels of homocysteine (an amino acid) in check. Too much homocysteine can damage blood vessels and increase the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
If you are over the age of 50, make sure you get enough B12 from a multivitamin supplement since the absorption of this nutrient decreases with age. It is also suggested that you get your B vitamins through a varied diet.
Good food sources of folate include lentils, spinach, avocadoes, oranges, asparagus, and cantaloupe. Vitamin B12 is found in lean meat, enriched soy beverages, low-fat dairy products and fish and eggs.