Keep Your Brain Healthy As You Age

As we age it is very important to take actionable steps in keep our brains healthy. Maintaining overall metabolic health is going to be a critical factor in keeping our brains young. Good nutrition and regular activity are imperative as we age.

Some other factors to consider are inflammation and oxidative stress levels (Oxidative stress is essentially an imbalance between the production of free radicals and the ability of the body to counteract or detoxify their harmful effects through neutralization by antioxidants.). Decreasing inflammatory foods (such as sugar, processed foods, and food intolerances) and increasing anti-inflammatory foods (such as omega-3 fatty acids and colorful fruits and veggies) is a foundational strategy.

Keeping our blood glucose relatively constant is also important. It has been shown that brain aging and neuroinflammation is correlated with both poor glucose management and hyperinsulinemia (excess levels of insulin in your blood relative to the level of glucose. This can often times be diagnosed as diabetes, but is actually caused by a variety of metabolic conditions). As we age it is important that we eat regularly spaced meals that include some slow-digesting, high-fiber carbs (think yams, wild rice, beans, and fruit). 

 

As we age a diet higher in fat and lower in carbs is recommended for overall health as well as brain health.

Such diets include:

  • lots of fresh fruits and vegetables
  • high quality meats and poultry
  • plenty of fish and seafood
  • beans and legumes
  • minimal dairy (and dairy foods are often fermented, e.g., yogurt)
  • fermented foods (such as pickled vegetables or sauerkraut)
  • relatively unprocessed fats, such as nuts, oily fish, and cold-pressed olive oil
  • liberal use of herbs and spices
  • Minimize industrial seeds oils (e.g. corn, soybean, safflower, sunflower, and cottonseed) and boost omega-3s, particularly EPA/DHA.
  • include adequate vitamin A and D.

Including several sources of dietary flavonoids and antioxidants as well has been shown to protect neurons against injury induced by neurotoxins, suppress neuro-inflammation, and promote memory, learning and cognitive function.

This includes such foods as:

  • dark chocolate/cocoa
  • green tea
  • colorful berries (e.g. blueberries)
  • leafy green vegetables
  • other colorful fruits and veggies
  • small amounts of red wine (excess alcohol consumption worsens brain health)
  • garlic
  • onion 
Beyond nutrition, healthy older bodies are moving , with lots of daily activity beyond just “working out”. They are out walking daily in nature, playing with their grandkids and participating in recreational activities, such as kayaking.
Healthy older brains are also active — solving puzzles and problems, sharing wisdom, and committed to lifelong learning. They are reading, connecting and engaging with others, and are part of a rich social network full of meaningful and rewarding personal relationships.
So, as you can see, keeping your brain and your body healthy as you age has to be done through both nutrition and activity. Focus on these things sooner rather than later and they will become easier to maintain as you age.