By Dr. Sylvia E. Klinger | Posted May 11, 2023
Taking care of my elderly mom, who is thriving at 88 years old, reminds me that having a healthy brain is critical to aging gracefully. And although genes impact longevity and the manner in which we age, surprisingly enough, 80 percent of our vitality and wellbeing is determined by our lifestyle.
June is Brain Health Awareness Month and as a dietitian, I believe we have valuable information that can help keep our brains healthy and I am truly excited about all the foods that can help us keep our brains healthy for the long term, including tips, supplements, and food! Below I am highlighting a number of foods and supplements that provide great brain health benefits. Together we can commit to incorporating these foods every day.
Did you know the brain is connected to your gut health? The latest human research between the gut – microbiota and brain health continues to support the relevance of the bidirectional gut microbiota-brain communication pathway and the effects of probiotics on the brain.
Probiotics, prebiotics and biogenics are the foundation of fermented foods (i.e. Kefir, tempeh, sauerkraut, miso, kimchi, yogurt, etc.). They can potentially modify the gut microbiota and improve the integrity of the intestinal barrier. Although further research is needed, they may also have potential as a treatment strategy for depression and anxiety in humans.
Walnuts contain important nutrients that support brain health. (source)
For more information about the nutritional benefits of walnuts visit walnuts.com
The isoflavones in soybeans are also the reason that soy may help to prevent cognitive impairment and bone loss that occurs with aging. Two servings of traditional soyfoods (soybeans, edamame, tofu, soymilk, tempeh, favorite soy burger or trendy soy product) appear to be sufficient to derive these proposed benefits.
Fortunately, widely available and affordable soyfoods fit in with the goals of making healthier lifestyles possible for a greater number of people. Soybeans provide excellent quality protein. In addition, compared to other beans, soybeans offer low carbohydrate content, provide beneficial unsaturated fat, and consuming soyfoods may contribute to the reduced risk of several chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.
For more information on the nutritional benefits of soy visit soynutritioninstitute.org
Seafood is brainfood! Our brains need omega-3’s to build brain cells. These healthy fats are extremely essential for learning and for slowing age-related mental decline also may prevents illnesses such as Alzheimer’s disease and many heart related conditions. Also, did you know that seafood can help to reduce anxiety and stress and lower your risk for depression? Studies show that fish eaters are 20% less likely than their peers to develop depression.
Fortunately, there are a number of foods that can provide a healthy amount of omega-3’s. Seafoods such as Salmon, mackerel, trout, pilchards, fish oil, flax seeds, walnuts, chia seeds are among some of the best sources.
For more information about the nutritional benefits of seafood visit healthy aging with more seafood and omega-3’s
Eggs are a rich source of Choline and one of the most concentrated food sources of choline in the American Diet as well as eight essential nutrients. Choline is necessary for brain health and development starting at conception, yet most prenatal vitamins don’t contain this nutrient. Thankfully, you can find choline in your refrigerator. Just one large egg provides the daily choline needs for babies, and two large eggs provide more than half of the daily needs for pregnant moms. Keep reading for more details and how to care for the brain from day one.
For more information on the nutritional benefits of eggs visit the incredibleegg.org
Regularly consuming 1 to 2 servings of strawberries may help prevent age-related cognitive decline. Older adults who consumed more strawberries showed a lower risk of cognitive decline, according to a recent study. Additionally, older adults who consumed more strawberries were less likely to develop Alzheimer’s dementia.
Strawberries are rich in flavonoids, which act as both antioxidants and anti-inflammatories. Together they may delay or slow age-related cognitive decline.
There is strong evidence that eating berries (strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, mulberries, blackcurrants), which are rich in antioxidants, can change the way our brain neurons communicate, which can prevent inflammation in the brain and prevent neuronal damage and improve motor and cognitive function.
Enjoy a cup of “brainful” berries in your cereal, yogurt, snack or favorite recipes.
For information about the nutrition benefits of blueberries visit blueberry.org
Cognition Kitchen Guide: A brain health guide with a few other organizations called “The Cognition Kitchen Guide: Choosing the Best Foods for Brain health.” Download it here.