Growing up, we all heard the old adage, “you are what you eat” – a phrase that can be understood as shorthand for “if you eat well, you will be well.” Our diet directly affects how we feel and how healthy we are, not only now but in future years. In fact, there is growing evidence that our food choices today can even impact cognitive function later in life. The goal is to increase our cognitive reserve: “When people are implementing good exercise habits and are engaged in cognitively stimulating activities, a healthy diet helps to support the necessary processes that take place for good brain health,”
Why Does Good Nutrition Help Your Brain?
Dr. Carol Greenwood, a senior scientist at Baycrest and a professor in the Department of Nutritional Sciences at the University of Toronto, has studied nutrition for brain health.
Researchers have found that obesity associated disorders, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol and higher levels of inflammation, are dementia risk factors. You can reduce these risk factors through a proper diet.
In general, eating a heart-healthy diet that is lower in saturated fats benefits both your body and your brain. No matter what our age, research shows we should increase our intake of fruits and vegetables, whole grains and fish. “This diet helps us maintain a healthy body weight, increases blood flow to the brain and decreases inflammation, which has been implicated in many diseases, including dementia,” says Dr. Greenwood.
The World Dementia Council has put out an international call for dementia risk reduction practices to be embedded into public health policy. Recognized within this is the importance of engaging in cognitively stimulating activities and following a high-quality diet.
Eating for brain health is about overall diet and not about any one individual food. It’s all about balance, moderation and variety. It isn’t about avoiding fat. Instead, eat the type of fat found in fish and plants. It isn’t about counting calories, but it’s still important to make sure that you’re not eating more than your body needs.
3 Tips for Great Brain Food!
To help keep your brain healthy well into old age, here are a few more smart food tips:
- Aim for daily servings of raw leafy greens, other vegetables, fruit and unsalted nuts. Dark-coloured vegetables and berries are particularly good for their natural antioxidant content.
- Cereals and complex carbohydrates lower cholesterol and decrease the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes – a risk factor for cognitive decline and dementia. Oats, because of the type of fiber they contain, are especially good.
- Salmon, trout or sardines offer healthy fats, referred to as either fish oils or omega-3 fats.
Start Each Day with an Awesome “50+” Breakfast at The Aspen Tree in The Forestias Operated by Baycrest
Breakfast is a key meal, giving us a bright start to the day. So The Aspen Tree at The Forestias has a breakfast menu based on nutritional principles to suit people at 50+ and give its residents delicious and nutritious dishes for a healthy body and brain.
Modern medical technology lets us live longer. But what matters most as an older adult is good health to live a free, meaningful, worry-free life. The Aspen Tree at The Forestias has teamed up with Baycrest, a global leader in research and eldercare from Canada, to meet every healthcare need.
Holistic Lifetime Care comes with complete facilities and a Health & Wellness program to suit your lifestyle, with yoga, swimming, singing, playing music, meditating, outdoor activities, hydrotherapy, and lots more to help keep your body, mind, and brain in top condition.
The Aspen Tree at The Forestias also has a Health & Brain Center with health services to slow the onset of dementia. A team of specialists are on call 24 hours a day to give you peace of mind and ensure your holistic good health.
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