By Gabrielle Hungate a recent ASU nutrition student
As many of us know, when we are young, we seem as though we can take on the world. Our brains our sharp, we can work, go to school and multitask without missing a beat. As we start to approach our early 40s, and I speak from experience, we notice a shift. We have to write more down, as we are forgetting more. We have to work harder at one we are doing and pay attention even harder. As the 50s, 60s and 70s, it simply declines even more rapidly.
Over the last 10 years, more research is being done that correlates our brain health with our diet. We hear multiple success stories regarding various diets that can keep our minds sharper, while also improving our health. For example, a study was done at Stoney Brook University in New York. Brains scans of 1000 people between ages 18 and 88 were analyzed and researchers found that damage to neural pathways were much more rapid based on where the brain was getting energy(1). They found that glucose decreased the stability of our network, yet keto diets made them more stable.
This study showed that by fueling our body with a different type of fuel can postpone the brain deuteriation (1). If you are not aware, a ketogenic diet contains high fat and low carbohydrates. There are other risks to this diet, that can cause heart complications but can also help neurological orders. There may be a happy medium between adding in more ketogenic foods, while keeping a heart-healthy diet.
There are many other foods to add to our diets that have been proven to support our brain health as well. The Mediterranean diet is a good place to start. This diet consists of fish, whole grains, leafy greens, olive, and nuts. Nuts contain higher quantities of healthy fats, along with the fish that contain higher levels of Omega 3 (2). Loading our plates with fruits and vegetables along with our healthy protein can never go wrong. Berries primarily are loaded with antioxidants that are imperative for brain function.
The last thing that you would think of to assist your brain is functioning properly are spices. Cinnamon and Ginger are also packed with antioxidants and can decrease inflammation, not just in your brain, but other parts of your body.
Overall, there are many things that we can do to help prevent, or slow down some of the damage to our brains and try to keep on top of the deterioration. The important thing to remember with many of these foods is to stay consistent with them and try to incorporate the foods on a daily basis and to use these foods as a replacement for things like pasta and sweets, that do not serve any nutritional purpose.
- Hill, A. (2020, March 6). Low-carb diet may reverse age-related brain deterioration, study finds. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/science/2020/mar/06/low-carb-diet-may-reverse-age-related-brain-deterioration-study-finds
- 6 Pillars of Brain Health. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://healthybrains.org/pillar-nutrition/