The brain changes with age. Occasionally forgetting where you parked the car is expected, but the kind of memory loss that robs you of your ability to take care of yourself is a real concern. Dementia is a symptom of Alzheimer's disease, which affects memory recall and cognitive tasks. Many people with dementia may struggle with living on their own and enter an assisted living center once they are diagnosed.
Researchers are working hard to find a solution, but one thing is already clear — the Western diet isn’t kind to the brain. Low-quality, processed foods and a lack of fruits, vegetables and healthy sources of fatty acids appear to play a large part in the epidemic of disorders causing memory loss. The good news is that the remedy may already be in your kitchen in the form of these three foods that can help keep your brain sharp as you get older.
For chocolate lovers, the news has never been better. Not only is it delicious, but it’s also chock full of flavonoids. These are an important class of phytonutrients found in brain-healthy foods like tea and red wine. According to Berkeley Wellness, studies show that dark chocolate and flavonoid-rich cocoa not only enhance vital nerve function in the brain, they also reduce inflammation and improve cardiovascular health. Highly processed cocoa and the kind of chocolate found in most candy bars, however, aren’t what you’re looking for. Choose organic, minimally processed products with a high percentage of cacao.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Research shows fatty acids can help keep your brain sharp. According to Assisted Living Center, about 60 percent of your brain is made out of fat and as such omega-3 fatty acids are vital for its health. The best way to add Omega-3’s to your diet is to consume them the way nature intended — in foods like linseed, soybeans, walnuts and fatty fish. To avoid exposure to pesticides, herbicide and mercury contaminants in seafood, opt for organically grown plant-based sources of Omega-3, and choose clean, sustainably farmed fish. Seeds and nuts are great options for vegans who want to take advantage of these oils.
BerriesAccording to research by Joseph Friedman, the brain is especially vulnerable to damage caused by free radicals — oxygen-containing molecules that cause inflammation and damage DNA. The cure for free radicals is antioxidants, oxidation-inhibiting compounds that are found in abundance in berries. Add a serving daily to breakfast cereal or a nutritious smoothie. For a treat, try them over a scoop of frozen yogurt.
Science continues to look for ways to keep the aging brain young. However, at the end of the day, the cure may be found in your kitchen cabinets and not the medicine cabinet.