The best foods to eat to prevent Dementia
Unfortunately, there is no pill to prevent Alzheimer’s dementia (AD). Even the medication that is available for AD does not prevent it or help improve your memory. The medications just slow down the natural progression of decline in your memory. So what can you do to help keep your brain healthy? Well as discussed in an prior post Alzheimer’s Dementia, the best way is a combination of increase physical and mental activity along with healthy eating. This blog is going to focus on the foods that have been shown to help keep your brain healthy.
It is now known that as your belly grows; your brain tends to shrink. There is a direct correlation between obesity and the shrinking of the area of the brain that is responsible for memory and recall; the hippocampus. It has also been found that being overweight doubles your risk of developing Alzheimer’s dementia and being obese will quadruple that risk. So an important goal of eating healthy is for weight loss. However, being on a brain healthy diet is more than just going on a weight lose diet. It is also about choosing foods that can help keep our brains healthy.
There is scientific evidence that points to certain foods that may promote brain health while others may cause damage and thus should be avoided.
Foods to eat:
- Eat foods that are a good source of B and D vitamins. It has long been recognized that some nutritional deficiencies can cause dementia, specifically, Vitamin B12, thiamine, folate, and most recently Vitamin D
- Consume omega 3 fatty acids. Low levels of omega 3 fatty acids have been associated with depression, anxiety, obesity, attention deficit disorder, suicide, and increase risk of Alzheimer’s dementia. There are three omega 3 fatty acids. Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicospentaenoic acid (EPA) which come from fish oils and alpha linolenic acid (ALA) which comes from plant sources. DHA is the main component of brain synapse and makes up a large portion of the gray matter in the brain. Lower DHA levels are associated with a smaller brain size. Omega 3 fatty acids reduces inflammation, combats the plaque buildup associated with Alzheimer’s and increases the blood flow to your brain. Boosting omega 3 fatty acids in your diet is one of the best things that you can do for your weight, mood, brainpower and longevity.
- Consume dietary antioxidants. Antioxidants such as vitamin E, vitamin C, and beta-carotene protect the body and the brain against the destructive effects of free radicals. Excessive free radical formation causes cell death and tissue damage. A study done in rats showed that rats who ate a diet rich in blueberries showed better ability to learn new motor skills and gain protection against strokes. There is evidence that that these natural antioxidants activate the brains natural house cleaning mechanisms to clean up the toxic proteins that are linked to age related memory loss and mental decline.
- Eat balance portions of protein, carbohydrates, and good fats at each meal. Having protein at each meal helps to balance blood sugar levels, which can cause “brain fog” from eating simple carbohydrates. Or recently more evidence points to eating a low carb high fat diet. See more in recent blog post.
One simple way that I am able to get in my all that I need to fuel my body and my brain is by drinking Shakeology. Besides the benefits of helping you lose weight and reduce craving, Shakeology is also packed with more than 70 of the most nutritious whole food ingredients that your body needs.
- There are a total of 13 vitamins that are considered essential for proper body function and Shakeology has them all including Vitamin B1, B12, folic acid, and Vitamin D.
- Shakeology also includes short chain omega fatty acids ALA from natural plant based sources of the sachi inchi, chia seed, and flax seed. However, it is unclear if the ALA gets converted to EPA or DHA so supplementing it with DHA and EPA is still recommended.
- It contains some of the most potent antioxidants to help protect the body from free radicals from oxidizing and destroying cells. It also helps support your body’s immune function and promote healthy aging. The antioxidants in Shakeology include, acai berry, acerola cherry, bilberry, blueberries, cacao, camu-camu, coconut flower nectar, goji berries, pomegranate, rose hips, luo han guo, grape seed, and green tea. Did you know that the American Heart Association and the American Cancer Society recommend eating between 5 and 9 serving of antioxidant rich fruits and vegetables a day; Shakeology meets this recommendation with just one serving.
- Shakeology contains about 16 grams of protein and 20 grams of total carbohydrates of which 5 grams is fiber to give you a balanced meal. Even though it seems to have a high ratio of carbohydrate, it has a low glycemic index averaging 24 (13-46 depending on formulation), which is lower than most fruits and vegetables. This help to stabilize your sugar and insulin levels and give you the energy your body and your brain needs throughout the day.
“So why can’t I just take a multivitamin that gives some of those nutrients that I need?” You may ask, well you can. However, unlike some multivitamin pills, Shakeology uses whole food sources of nutrients. The benefits of using whole food is that the nutrients are preserved as close to their natural state as possible. This allows your body to better absorb and more efficiently use these nutrients, as intended in nature.
Now I am not saying that drinking Shakeology is going to prevent you from having Alzhemier’s dementia. Just like the label says: “these statements have not been evaluated by the FDA.” “This product (Shakeology) is not intended to diagnosis, treat, cure, or prevent and disease”. However, as a Neurologist I personally drink Shakeology on a daily basis for many reasons, just one of which is to help keep my brain healthy.
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Shakeology is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or been evaluated by theFood and Drug Administration.