The human brain is the command center for the body. It enables thoughts, emotions, memory, movement, and emotions. Interestingly, there is no unified definition for brain health. However, the CDC defines brain health as the ability to perform all the mental processes, including the ability to learn and judge, use language, and remember1. Cognitive decline within the aging population is a growing public health concern. This is because there isn’t a treatment plan to prevent it. Preventative approaches are essential to address this public health concern. Improving your brain health can help you improve your quality of life as you age . Studies show a relationship between the nutrition in food and their effects on overall brain health. This article will highlight three foods that promote a healthy brain, and prevent cognitive decline.
Cognitive decline is the experience of worsening and more frequent confusion or memory loss2. It is one of the earliest symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease3. Cognition is the brain’s ability to learn, remember, and make judgments. This means that impaired cognition impacts an individual’s quality of life and overall health. Cognitive decline ranges from mild cognitive impairment to dementia. Dementia is a form of decline in abilities severe enough to affect daily life4.
Fish that contains high levels of fatty acids have protective properties against dementia and cognitive decline5. Fatty fish has been shown to be crucial for maintaining brain health and performance. However, Essential fatty acids are required for optimal health and are not synthesized by the body. Therefore we are required to obtain them from dietary sources. Examples of fatty fish are Salmon, lake trout, sardines, and tuna. These fish are all high in essential fatty acids which promotes a healthy brain. Studies show that one meal of fish per week help protect against age related memory loss and thinking problems6.
Over the last decade food studies show that coffee consumption is not harmful and even has health benefits. However, it should be limited to 200mg of caffeine in one sitting and no more than 400mg daily7. Regular coffee consumption can reduce the risk of Parkinson’s disease8. In addition, caffeine has been shown to prevent other degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s9.
Blueberries have several key antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agents that prevent cognitive decline. They contain anthocyanins, the compound that gives them their dark colour. This compound improves brain health by improving the communication pathways within the brain10. In other words, blueberries help your brain run more efficiently. Additionally, studies have concluded that the nutrients in blueberries have the ability to lower the oxidative stress and inflammation within the brain. This delays or even reverses age related cognitive decline11. Blueberries are a key dietary component to promote the healthy aging process.
- Wang, Y., Pan, Y., & Li, H. (2020). What is Brain Health and Why is it Important? The BMJ.
- Alzheimer’s Association. (2018). 2018 Facts and Figures. Alzheimers Dement, 14(3), 367-429.
- CDC. (2019, February 27). Alzheimer’s Disease and Healthy Aging. Retrieved from Subjective Cognitive Decline: https://www.cdc.gov/aging/data/subjective-cognitive-decline-brief.html#:~:text=Subjective%20Cognitive%20Decline%20(SCD)%20is,Alzheimer’s%20disease%20and%20related%20dementias.
- Fotuhi, M., Mohassel, P., & Yaffe, K. (2009). Fish consumption, long-chain omega-3 fatty acids and risk of cognitive decline or Alzheimer disease: a complex association. Nature Review, 5, 140-152.
- Van de Rest, O., Wang, Y., Barnes, L., Tangney, D., Bennett, M., & Morris, C. (2016). APOE 4 and associations of seafood and long chain omega-3 fatty acids with cognitive decline. neurology.
- Nehlig, A. (2016). Effects of coffee/caffeine on brain health and disease: What should I tell my patients? Practical Neurology, 16, 83-83.
- Trevitt, J., Kawa, K., Jalali, A., & Larsen, C. (2009). Differential Effects of Adenosine antagonists in two models of parkinsonian tremor. pharmacol biochem, 94, 24-29.
- De Mondonca, A., & Cunha, R. (2010). Therapeutic Opportunities for caffeine in alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenertive disorders. Alzheimers Dis, S1-S2.Krikorian, R., Shidler, M., Nash, T., Kalt, W., Vinqvist-tymchuk, V., Shukitt-hale, B., & Joseph, J. (2010). Blueberry supplementation improves memory in older adults. Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 58(7), 3996-4000.
- Shukitt-Hale, B. (2012). Blueberries and Neuronal Aging. Gerontology, 58, 518-523.