Raise your hand if getting older is something you look forward to. I’m guessing there are very few hands going up right now. While aging isn’t optional, healthy aging is. But there are several facets to healthy aging, from physical and emotional to social and cognitive. One is not necessarily more important than the other; however, without mental capability, the others simply cannot be. Our cognitive ability dictates how the rest of us will function. The higher our cognitive ability the more we can connect with others, take better care of ourselves, and remain active. Take away our cognitive ability and those areas cease to exist. So, as we continue to age, how do we ensure our brain power is kept strong?
To sustain life, we need to eat. Eating can mean different things to different people, but it essentially boils down to eating smart. Elementary school taught us the food groups – meat, dairy, fruit, vegetables, fish, whole grains – yet how many of us use that information when planning what to eat?
A recent article in USA Today highlighted how dietary patterns offer “the best hope for feeding your brain.” So what does this mean? We have all heard of superfoods, foods like acai berries, spinach, and wheat grass. And while it’s true that they are packed with nutrients that are beneficial to our health, we cannot just rely on one food item to maintain optimal health. It is the entire diet that impacts our health.
There a several studies suggesting that there are certain diets that help slow cognitive decline. Ironically, these are the same diets that are also good for our hearts. Some of these diets might even help prevent Alzheimer’s disease and they typically contain those superfoods. A few diets the article mentioned were:
- The Mediterranean Diet
- The DASH Diet
- The Mind Diet
Each of these diets contain fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, fish, and lean proteins, plus provide that dietary pattern researchers are most interested in. The belief is that there is a synergistic effect from the nutrients found in whole foods that have a positive impact on brain health. So, the bottom-line is – eat smart and create a dietary pattern that helps to prevent memory loss and other signs of brain aging.
Aging is going to happen whether we like it or not, so why not make it work to your advantage?