As a caretaker for an ill or aging loved one, their cognitive decline is something you may be concerned about. Today, Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia affect more than five million people in the United States. Cerebral health can be affected by age-related changes in the brain, injuries such as stroke or traumatic brain injury, mood disorders such as depression, substance use disorder or addiction, and diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease. While some of these factors affecting brain health can’t be reversed, there are still many lifestyle changes that can make a difference. There is growing evidence that you can help your loved one preserve their brain function and safeguard their memory by adopting specific healthy lifestyle activities, and their diet plays a major role. That’s why below we’ve put together a list of the seven best foods to improve brain function and condition. Try to think of a menu each week that can include some of these items/ingredients, or discuss with your loved one’s home health aide or CNA, if they help with meal prep.
**Talk to your physician before incorporating any of these foods or supplements into your diet.
1. Fatty Fish
Fatty fish is a plentiful source of Omega-3 fatty acids, a major component for brain health. Omega-3s play a role in sharpening memory and improving mood, as well as protecting your brain against cognitive decline.
Nuts are abundant in nutrients, including unsaturated fatty acids like Omega-3, and Oleic,
Docosahexaenoic, Eicosapentaenoic, and Docosapentaenoic acids. These fatty acids are imperative for brain health and help support many other body organs and functions as well. For the brain, fatty acids also facilitate the growth of new brain cells, which will improve your memory and concentration, and help you to think more quickly.
3. Coffee and Tea
Coffee and tea may do more than just jolt you awake—they could also help keep your brain healthy, according to a slew of recent studies. Researchers have linked these beverages with protection from depression, Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease.
Oxidative stress has been shown to quicken the aging process of your brain and negatively affect brain function. The antioxidants in blueberries have been found to slow memory impairments and motor coordination that are typically associated with this aging process.
New evidence suggests there may be significant benefits to brain health, including chronic disease prevention. Turmeric contains a chemical called curcumin that contains neuroprotective properties to preserve mental acuity. Therefore, turmeric may have the ability to boost memory function, reduce brain fog, and enhance overall cognition.
6. Cruciferous vegetables
Leafy greens such as kale, spinach, collards, and broccoli are rich in brain-healthy nutrients like vitamin K, lutein, folate, and beta carotene. Research suggests these plant-based foods may help slow cognitive decline.
7. Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate and cocoa powder are packed with a few brain-boosting compounds, including flavonoids, caffeine, and antioxidants. Dark chocolate has a 70% or greater cocoa content. These benefits are not seen with regular milk chocolate, which contains only about 10–50% cocoa. Flavonoids, a group of antioxidant plant compounds, converge in the areas of the brain that deal with learning and memory. Researchers believe that these compounds may enhance memory and also help slow down age-related mental decline.
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