With the increase of fad diets, “superfoods,” and an increasing choice of dietary supplements, it is sometimes difficult to understand what to eat. This can be especially important as we grow older and try to create the best decisions to minimize the risk of health issues such as high blood pressure, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart (cardiovascular) issues.
We now have proof of these health issues affecting brain function as well: they boost nerve degeneration in the brain, leading to an increased danger of Alzheimer’s disease and other brain diseases including vascular dementia and Parkinson’s illness.
We understand that a healthy diet can safeguard against circumstances such as diabetes of type 2, obesity and heart illness. Luckily, proof demonstrates that what is good for the body is also good for the brain in general.
As we age, our metabolism becomes less effective and less capable of getting rid of the compounds produced by what is called “oxidative stress.” The ordinary chemical reactions of the body can sometimes trigger chemical harm or produce side-products known as free radicals, which in turn harm other chemicals in the body.
Our bodies rely on protective systems in the form of antioxidants or particular proteins to neutralize these free radicals. But these systems are becoming less effective as we get older. If the free radical damage can no longer be neutralized by your body, it is under oxidative stress.
The toxic compounds produced by oxidative stress build up continuously, slowly damaging the brain and ultimately leading to Alzheimer’s disease symptoms. You need to decrease oxidative stress and the long-term inflammation that it can trigger in order to decrease your danger. It’s essential to increase physical exercise. But here we focus on nutrition, our main source of ANTIoxidants.
Foods to add
You can include plenty of ingredients in your diet that will have a positive effect on brain health. These include fresh fruit, seafood, green leafy vegetables, pulses (including beans, lentils and peas), as well as healthy oils and nuts. Best part being, they do not cause a huge dent in your bank account.
Fish is a healthy source of protein as a whole. Especially oily fish, which is rich in fatty acids of omega-3. Laboratory trials have shown that omega-3 fatty acids protect against oxidative stress and have been discovered to be absent from Alzheimer’s disease in the brains of individuals. They are essential for memory, learning and cognitive processes, and enhance the function and microbiota of the gut.
Meanwhile, low nutritional consumption of omega-3 fatty acids is associated with quicker cognitive decrease and the growth of preclinical Alzheimer’s illness (changes in the brain that can be seen several years before symptoms such as memory loss arise). Omega-3 fatty acids are usually absent from western diets, and this has been associated with decreased health and function of brain cells.
Fish supplies vitamin D as well. This is essential because there has been a lack of vitamin D associated with Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and vascular dementia (a prevalent form of dementia triggered by decreased blood supply to the brain as a consequence of a sequence of tiny strokes).
Vitamin C (strawberries), anthocyanins (blueberries, raspberries and blackberries) and resveratrol (blueberries) are particularly high in antioxidants.
Anthocyanins were correlated with lower toxic modifications in Alzheimer’s disease-related protein and decreased signs of oxidative stress and inflammation specifically connected with brain cell (neuron) harm in studies on mouse brain cells. Human studies showed improvements in brain function and blood flow, as well as indications of decreased inflammation of the brain.
Red and purple sweet potato
Longevity has been connected with a few traditional diets, one of which is the diet of Japan’s Okinawan people. The starchy staple of their diet is the purple sweet potato, wealthy in antioxidants from anthocyanin.
Mice studies have shown that the anthocyanins of this potato protect against the impacts of obesity on the regulation of blood sugar and mental function and can decrease the inflammation of the brain caused by obesity.
Green vegetables and herbs
For its links to longevity and lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease, the traditional Mediterranean diet has also been studied.
This diet features prominently green vegetables and herbs. They are wealthy sources of antioxidants including vitamins A and C, folate, polyphenols like apigenin, and (particularly raw) carotenoid xanthophylls. A carotenoid is a frequently found orange or red pigment in carrots.
It is thought that antioxidants and anti-inflammatory chemicals in vegetables are accountable for slowing the growth of Alzheimer’s pathology, building up particular proteins poisonous to brain cells.
Parsley is a strong antioxidant, wealthy in apigenin. It easily crosses the blood-brain barrier (unlike many medicines), where it decreases inflammation and oxidative stress, and helps recover the brain tissue after injury.
Beetroot is a wealthy source of antioxidants for folate and polyphenol, as well as manganese and copper. Beetroot is particularly rich in betalain pigments, reducing oxidative stress and having anti-inflammatory characteristics.
Beetroot can also boost the levels of nitric oxide in the body due to its nitrate content. Nitric oxide relaxes blood vessels resulting in lower blood pressure, an advantage associated with beetroot juice drinking.
A latest study of clinical studies in older adults also showed clear advantages to the health of our hearts and blood vessels from nitrate-rich beetroot juice.
Foods to reduce
It is just as essential to minimize unhealthy foods as adding excellent sources of antioxidants to your diet: some foods contain damaged fats and proteins, which are significant sources of oxidative stress and inflammation.
An elevated consumption of “junk foods” including sweets, soft drinks, refined carbohydrates, processed meats and deep fried foods has been associated with obesity, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Where these circumstances are all risk factors for cognitive decrease and Alzheimer’s disease, to decrease health hazards and enhance longevity, they should be held to a minimum.
Article originally featured by The Conversation.