March 15, 2019
It happens to all of us: that moment when you walk into a room and forget why you went in there. Or, losing your train of thought in the middle of a sentence. Every adult experiences memory loss like this from time to time, and although it may feel a bit frustrating, it’s a normal part of getting older.
However, certain lifestyle changes can support us in keeping our brains healthy and our memories strong. Eating a healthy diet is important at any age, but for seniors especially, eating nutritious, well-balanced meals packed with nutrients and healthy foods can help maintain your brain health and keep your mind sharp. In fact, incorporating certain nutrients in your diet can help protect brain cells and reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
As always, consult with your physician or health professional before making any significant changes to your diet. Here are five nutrients to look for to improve your brain health and the foods where you’ll find them:
These healthy fats are powerhouse nutrients that are essential for brain health, growth and function. EPA and DHA are types of omega-3 fatty acids that are beneficial for the brain. EPA helps regulate inflammation, while DHA maintains brain nerve function. Our bodies do not produce EPA and DHA on their own, so we have to get it from food sources. Fatty fish like tuna and salmon, eggs, avocados, walnuts and flaxseeds contain healthy omega-3s.
Antioxidants are known to be brain-protecting nutrients, shielding our bodies and brain cells against damage. Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant which has been proven to reduce the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s. Almonds, walnuts and eggs contain antioxidant properties. Other antioxidants that help keep your brain sharp are in the berry family, such as strawberries, blueberries and dark cherries.
Fiber is important for brain health because it helps nurture the gut bacteria that supports brain growth. Prebiotic fibers allow good bacteria to grow and flourish in our digestive systems. Fiber-rich foods include bananas, tomatoes, onions, and lentils. Eating prebiotic food has also been shown to improve mental health by reducing depression, stress and anxiety.
Choline works as the brain’s messenger, maintaining communication between brain cells and muscles. It also helps to reduce inflammation and is critical for memory. Eggs, brussel sprouts, lima beans and wheat germ are good sources for choline. Daily choline supplements are also an option.
This brain boosting nutrient helps enhance cognitive function and verbal memory. Vitamin K is also an anti-aging vitamin that may help prevent Alzheimer’s. Load up on dark leafy greens like kale, spinach and arugula to get more vitamin K in your diet.
Did you know that Episcopal SeniorLife Communities offers Neighborhood Programs to promote health and wellness to seniors in the areas we serve? These programs provide exercise programs, nutrition education, informational presentations and best of all, the opportunity to connect with others. Each program is open to all seniors who live nearby, not just ESLC residents.
Our senior living residents here at Episcopal SeniorLife Communities enjoy a range of services and amenities, including healthy dining options, to help keep their bodies healthy and their minds sharp. Contact us today to learn more about our living options and to schedule a tour.