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June 2024

Eating for Brain Health

Are you feeling forgetful? It could be due to lack of sleep, lifestyle, environmental factors, or even activity level.  It may be a medical condition such as high blood pressure or diabetes.  However, there is no doubt that a healthy diet plays a major role in brain health, which is vital to keeping your brain sharp.

Brain – Diet Connection
Studies link foods found in a Mediterranean-style diet (rich in vegetables, fish, legumes and healthy fats) to improved memory and alertness.  Saturated and hydrogenated fats, typically found in processed foods, are associated with dementia, as these foods promote inflammation.

A surprising link, changes in your gut (intestinal tract) may also be linked to inflammation in the brain.  The gut contains both good and bad bacteria.  This is referred to as your microbiome.  Foods that feed good bacteria such as yogurt, legumes, cruciferous vegetables, whole grains and blueberries can reduce this inflammation.

The MIND Diet—This is a combination of a Mediterranean-style and the DASH diet (dietary approach to stop high blood pressure).  In one study the MIND diet decreased the risk of cognitive decline by 35%. It focuses on foods that nourish and protect the brain.  These foods include vegetables, especially leafy greens, berries, fish, poultry, legumes (beans), whole grains, olive oil and nuts.

  • Leafy Greens - Have a salad and at least 1 other vegetable every day.
  • Berries -Include 5 servings per week (1 serving is ½ c); especially blueberries.
  • Fish - Strive for at least one serving per week; focus on omega-3 rich sources.
  • Poultry - Include this protein at least twice per week; 1 serving is 3 ounces.
  • Beans - Have 1/2c every other day; chickpeas, kidney, lima and black beans.
  • Whole Grains – Include 3 servings daily.  One serving equals 1 slice of whole grain bread or 1/2c of brown rice, oats, quinoa or other whole grain.
  • Olive Oil - Choose this fat over other oils and spreads; consume in moderation.
  • Nuts - Enjoy a small handful as a snack; keep portions in check as calories add up!

“Foods to Limit” for the MIND
There are five foods linked to impairing memory.  These foods are high in saturated fats or sugar.

  • Red Meat - less than 4 times per week.
  • Fried & Fast Food - less than 1 time per week.
  • Whole-Fat Cheese - less than 2oz per week.
  • Butter/Margarine - less than 1 tablespoon per day.
  • Pastries & Sweets - Fewer than 5 per week.

Beyond Diet– Maintain Your Brain Health
When it comes to brain health, a healthy eating pattern plays a key role. In addition to healthy eating, you can support brain health and mental sharpness by:

  • Challenging your brain with puzzles, games and reading.
  • Staying socially connected with family, friends and your community.
  • Keeping physically active, as this will increase blood flow to the brain.


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