People who are more physically fit are less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease, according to a recent study. The study involved 649,605 military veterans with an average age of 61 who didn’t have Alzheimer’s disease at the start of the study. The participants were divided into five groups, from least fit to most fit. When researchers adjusted for other factors that could affect the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, they found that the people in the fittest group were 33% less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease than those in the least fit group and that the Alzheimer’s disease case rate decreased as the level of fitness increased.
Diet and Brain Health
Emerging evidence from studies suggests that along with exercise, there’s no doubt that diet plays a major role in brain health. According to experts, the key to keeping brain cells healthy is to encourage good blood flow to the brain and prevent brain-damaging inflammation. So along with regular exercise, what should you be eating to keep your brain in tip-top shape?
- Omega 3 fatty acids contain DHA and EPA, which are highly concentrated in the brain and are crucial for optimal brain function. Fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, sardines, and herring, are some of the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids. If you don’t eat fish, you can get omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil supplements.
- Dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale are packed with antioxidants that can protect your brain from toxic free radicals, as well as vitamins B6, B12, and folate, which play a key role in healthy brain function.
- Berries and cherries Berries contain high levels of antioxidants and may help prevent the inflammation that contributes to damaged neurons.
- Eggs yolks are one of the richest sources of choline, an essential nutrient that aids brain function by helping maintain the structure of brain cell membranes and is also a precursor to acetylcholine, an important neurotransmitter in the brain.
- Turmeric, a popular spice in India, contains the molecule curcumin that is believed to have positive effects on health in general, inflammation, and on the brain specifically.
- Nuts and seeds are good sources of vitamin E, which has been shown to correspond with less cognitive decline as you get older.
- Coffee and tea contain caffeine which can boost brain power by enhancing memory, focus, and mood and has also been shown to be protective against dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. They also contain antioxidants and promote healthy blood flow.
- Dark chocolate contains powerful antioxidants known as flavanols that have been shown to improve both mood and cognitive function.
Overall, a large body of literature has shown that your diet and lifestyle play a major role in keeping your brain healthy and performing at its best as you age. Following a balanced and nutrient-dense diet has a positive effect on brain health and function. Optimal nutrient intake is important for maintaining brain health and if your diet is inadequate, supplementation may be helpful. If you have questions about which nutritional supplements are right for you, take our supplement quiz!
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