June is Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month and is a time to bring awareness and show support for the millions of people worldwide struggling with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. According to the Alzheimer’s Association 5.7 Million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s. By 2050, this number is projected to rise to nearly 14 million. With a family history of dementia, myself, this is something I take very seriously, and you should too, especially if cognitive decline and impairment is something that has affected someone in your family. While we might not realize it, while were young and healthy, the decisions we make throughout our entire life can greatly affect the health of our brain later in life. I wrote a this post a few weeks about how we can protect our brains and in this post I’d like to cover some of the best foods we can eat to help our brain remain sharp.
One of the best things we can do for our overall health, disease prevention, to protect our brains and help us feel our very best, is eliminate inflammatory foods which include; Gluten, Sugar, Dairy, Meats, Fast and processed foods, Fried foods, Pastries, Alcohol, Food additives and preservatives.
While you may think, poo! That doesn’t leave a lot for me to eat, it’s quite the opposite. Our bodies have evolved over many years to eat a diet that sustains us and helps us procreate which ensures survival of our species. This diet does not include many of the foods that are in the Standard American Diet. In fact, there is a very strong correlation between the increase in processed foods and many of the dreaded diseases of our modern society. In particular, Alzheimer’s and Dementia. Poor food choices and an accumulation of other environmental factors damage our brains throughout the course of our lives and if you have a genetically predisposition for dementia, these factors greatly accelerate the risk of getting the disease.
Like I mentioned previously, the best thing we can do for our brain is eliminate those bad foods and instead focus on adding in more fruits, veggies, nuts, beans and especially greens, lots of healthy, whole foods, plant-based fats and foods low on the glycemic index.
I’ve highlighted the foods that have been found to provide the most promise for prevention and treatment in numerous studies below. Most experts recommend eating a diet rich in protective compounds like a diversity of berries, nuts and seeds, abundant herbs, leafy greens as well as focusing on vitamin A (beta carotene), C, D, E and all the B rich foods, Omega-3 fatty acids, flavonoids, folate, magnesium and curcumin.
Just a few of the foods that have proven beneficial for dementia prevention and treatment include:
- Herbs – especially Sage and Rosemary
- Leafy greens (Kale, Turnip Greens, Swiss Chard and Broccoli are the best)
- Mushrooms – most notably Lion’s Mane Mushrooms
- Spices – especially Ginger, Saffron and Turmeric
- Omega-3 rich foods including; Walnuts, Flax Seeds, Chia Seeds and Hemp Seeds
One of the clearest lifestyle choices, in addition, is ensuring you are exercising 4-6 times a week both your body and your brain as well as getting adequate sleep and have a stress management routine in place. It’s also important to work with a knowledgeable natural health practitioner who can analyze blood work and provide supplement recommendations.
If you are at risk of getting any of the forms of brain disease, I would greatly encourage you to do your research and empower yourself with knowledge. Some of the Doctors pioneering this field are Dr. Dale Bredesen and Team Sherzai, a husband and wife neurology team – please be sure to check out some of there books and programs. It’s very encouraging to know that there are simple steps we can take, and when we start early, we can keep our brains functioning optimally throughout our entire life, even though our genes may say something different.