The importance of healthy eating for the brain as we age
What we eat can have a profound effect on our general wellbeing, you know that. But have you ever given any thought as to how nutrition can impact our brain, and in particular our memory?
Registered Naturopathic Nutritional Therapist and Licensed Brain Health Practitioner, Ify at The Modern Glow joins us to explain more:
Later this year I will be attending a conference where Professor Dale Bredesen will be answering the question “ Is Alzheimer’s Now Optional?”
The concept that we may have a choice and even be able to reverse Alzheimer’s is exciting and a subject that Bredesen has dedicated his life’s work to.
In 2014 Bredesen published his study, ‘Reversal of Cognitive Decline; a novel therapeutic programme’ using almost exclusively diet and lifestyle intervention. Although this was a relatively small study, the protocol (now known as the Bredesen Protocol) reversed symptoms of Alzheimer’s in more than 90% of the 140 patients he had worked with – how amazing is that?!
Here are my top three suggestions on the small changes we can make in our diet (along with eating plenty of vitamin and mineral-rich veggies!) to improve our wellbeing, memory and mood…
Low glycaemic load diets (less sugar and starchy carbs!)
Following a low glycaemic load diet is key to preventing the development of hypoglycaemia and/or insulin resistance, which is damaging to the brain.
That means making sure we don’t overeat foods that are high in simple carbohydrates such as pasta, potatoes, crisps, cakes, bread, pastries, etc. Although these foods can make us feel good in the short term, eating them day in and day out can lead to the development of insulin resistance and increased insulin sensitivity, which ultimately has several detrimental effects on cognitive function.
One of the areas I notice that my clients often struggle is with breakfast. Sometimes it’s just too easy to reach for jam-smothered toast, cereals, or a tasty breakfast bar. Unfortunately, these foods contain little nutrition and create a spike in our blood sugars which eventually leads to a slump mid-morning and you find yourself reaching for a mid-morning pick me up. Sound familiar?
Something as simple as switching your jam and toast for a protein-packed smoked salmon and boiled egg can make all the difference to your mood.
Or if you’ve got more of a sweet tooth, opting for low sugar fruits like blueberries and yogurt instead of a bowl of coco-pops can not only help the brain to stay active for longer, but can also improve your concentration and memory for up to five hours later.
Owning your Omega-3
Did you know that our brains are made up of 60% fat? Making it crucial that we consume the right types of fat, to avoid contributing to inflammation within the body.
One of the most important fats for both the brain and body is omega-3 – something that many of our diets fall short on!
Omega-3 rich foods such as fish, nuts and eggs play a key role in sharpening our memory and improving our mood. Egg yolks in particular are jam-packed with choline – a nutrient that’s associated with reducing inflammation and promoting brain function by improving the communication between our brain cells. Not to mention, eggs are rich sources of B6 and B12 – both super important for brain health and development!
In a nutshell, to have more energy, optimal brain function and ensure our brains age well, we need a diet that is:
- Low in sugar and moderate in starchy carbohydrates
- Contains good healthy fats, including the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA
- Includes plenty of vegetables for their vitamins, minerals and anti-inflammatory phytonutrients, also their high fibre content, which is important for the gastrointestinal system.
If you would like tailored nutrition and lifestyle advice to help you live a happier, healthier life, please get in touch to arrange a free 15-minute initial consultation with Ify.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or Call: 01235 355 570