Food is fuel for our brains, which is why it’s crucial that our diet benefits our mental wellbeing.
Here are some diet tips to help protect your brain against dementia.
Tip One: Go Nuts for Fish!
Whether you’re sitting down to enjoy salmon for dinner, or snacking on walnuts as you go about your day, both fish and nuts contain the omega 3 oil that our brains need. The human body cannot produce omega 3, but it does require this oil to maintain the fatty levels of our brains and reduce inflammation. Fat constitutes 50% of the tissue in the brain, including a fatty acid called DHA which can be maintained through consuming omega 3 oils. Omega 3 also reduces inflammation both within the brain and across our bodies. If your taste buds aren’t fond of fish or nuts, omega 3 supplements are available with the DHA that your brain needs.
Tip Two: Fill Up on Fruit and Vegetables
Nature is full of brain-boosting goodness, and many essential minerals and vitamins can be found in fruit and vegetables. Leafy green vegetables are our friends, providing folate and vitamin B9 to improve cognition. If you have high levels of homocysteine, an amino acid which can impair cognition, cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and Brussels sprouts will lower your homocysteine with carotenoids. Colourful berries are rich in antioxidants which protect the brain, as well as improving your levels of vitamins C and E.
Tip Three: Keen on Beans
We all rely on neurons to transmit information around the body, which is why it’s so important to keep them functioning. Beans and legumes are full of folate, iron, magnesium and potassium, which all have a positive effect on neuron health, as well as on our general wellbeing. Mixing chickpeas or lentils into your meals raises your intake of choline, a vitamin which helps neurotransmissions by boosting essential chemical acetylcholine.
Tip Four: Brains Love Grains
More specifically, brains love wholegrains, a much healthier alternative to simple carbohydrates. While white rice and wheat flour can cause bodily inflammation, switching to quinoa, oats, or brown rice reduces these risks because they take longer to digest.
Tip Five: Savour Every Flavour
Spices and seasonings don’t just add delicious flavours – they are also beneficial to your mental health. A pinch of cinnamon, sage, or cumin can reduce inflammation and break up plaque in the brain. Turmeric is a super-spice and the current subject of much medicinal research. Turmeric contains antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and neuroprotective properties, all of which do wonders for the brain.
Tip Six: Say No to Salt
Not all foods are heroes! High levels of salt increase blood pressure and the probability of a stroke, which can cause vascular dementia. Hidden away in processed foods, especially meats and cheeses, it’s easy to exceed 6 grams per day, which is the maximum salt intake suggested by experts. Make the switch to fresh meats, or substitute high-sodium food with an egg, in order to reduce the risks.
Tip Seven: Simple Suppers
For people with dementia, eating healthy meals is not always easy. They may forget about meals, struggle with utensils, or become overwhelmed by other sensory distractions. Using plain white crockery helps people with dementia distinguish the food from everything else on the table, and turning off background noise helps reduce distraction. Eating alongside other people in a relaxed environment takes the pressure off people who are struggling to eat. Finger food or wide handled utensils allow a person with dementia to be more independent while they eat, making the meal more enjoyable for all.