June is Alzheimer's & Brain Awareness Month. Boost your brain health with these 5 mind-enriching nutrition tips!
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
These healthy fats have actually been shown to lower the amount of beta-amyloid in the blood, which is the protein that plays a role in Alzheimer’s disease. Omega-3’s are also great for your heart! Find omega-3 fatty acids in walnuts, flax seeds, and fish sources, including salmon, tuna, pollock, and cod. If you don’t like any of these food sources, you can talk to your doctor about taking an omega-3 supplement. Other healthy fats from plant sources will also contribute to better brain health and overall health. Get these from nuts, seeds, avocado, olives, and vegetable oils.
Antioxidants & Flavonoids
Antioxidants are components of food that protect the body and prevent against damage to cells, which helps prevent disease, including diseases and damage in the brain. These include beta-carotene, lycopene, lutein, selenium, vitamin C, vitamin A, and vitamin E. No need to stress out about getting each of these specific components, but instead focus on eating a variety of plant foods, including fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and whole grains.
Flavonoids are a group of antioxidants, and have been shown in research to improve memory. Flavonoids give some fruits and vegetables their vibrant pigment. You’ll find them in berries, greens, and cocoa.
Vitamin K is becoming known as an anti-aging vitamin. There is some research that shows it may help prevent Alzheimer's disease, due to its role in regulating calcium in the bones and in the brain. This gives it a protective effect against damage to the brain. Vitamin K is also thought to prevent against cancer, stroke, hardening of the arteries, and osteoporosis. Sources include green vegetables, like spinach and broccoli, meats, fish, liver, eggs, cauliflower, and cabbage. Vitamin K does help the blood clot, so if you are on blood-thinning medications, check with your doctor before increasing your intake.
Turmeric, also known as curcumin, is a spice that has been studied for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. For Alzheimer's disease, it has been shown to reduce the inflammation, which can help prevent damage to cells and symptoms of the disease. As an antioxidant, turmeric can protect the body and help prevent aging of or damage to the brain. It may also be able to help improve memory. To increase your intake of turmeric, simply add it as a spice to your favorite dishes! It is traditionally used in Indian cuisine, so find a few recipes to get used to the flavor. You can also supplement turmeric, but it’s best to consult with your doctor to find out if this is appropriate for you.
Many studies show that caffeine improves brain function and helps increase the ability to retain memories. 1-2 cups of tea or coffee a day may give you this benefit, but there’s no need to take in much more than that, as higher intake make cause trouble with digestion.
If you’d like to learn more about how to improve the health of your brain, check out these library resources. As always, take the knowledge you gain from this post and books, then work with your doctor to apply them appropriately.