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Did you know that nutrition and healthy habits can help improve your cognitive fitness? Evidence suggests that diet and lifestyle factors can have an impact on your memory and brain function![i] These factors can have positive impacts in many areas in your life. Here are some helpful tips to improve cognitive function as you age, and help decrease the risk of age-related cognitive impairment, including conditions such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
It was once thought that food’s sole purpose was to provide energy for the body, but nutrition is now appreciated for its role in disease prevention. For cognitive function in particular, the fats and oils we consume are a key factor. Diets high in saturated and trans fats, often associated with “junk” foods, have been shown to decrease cognitive function, while diets high in polyunsaturated and omega 3 fatty acids have been proven to be heroes in preserving memory.[ii]
Tip: The Mediterranean diet includes several foods that support our brain health and are high in healthy unsaturated fats:[iii]
Tip: Eating a varied diet from whole foods can ensure adequate B vitamin intake:[vi]
Antioxidants, such as vitamins C and E, have been proven to decrease inflammation for healthier blood vessels, and can help reduce cognitive decline as we get older.[viii]
Tip: Many foods high in vitamins C and E can be combined in meals or snacks:[ix]
In addition to good nutrition, many other factors can help us maintain our cognitive function:
Activities that exercise the brain, such as crossword puzzles, brain training games such as board games and card games, attending a workshop or learning a new language have been shown to help improve cognitive health in older adults.[x]
Tip: Try out a new class at your local community centre to train your brain to learn something new!
Cardiovascular fitness expands blood flow and oxygen delivery to the brain, maintaining brain volume.[xi]
Tip: Get exercise every day. Try going for a 30-minute walk!
There is published evidence which demonstrates that older adults with fewer social ties are at greater risk for cognitive decline.[xii]
Tip: Join a social club in your area, call up a friend or make time to see family.
It’s never too late to think about maintaining brain health and memory. Try some of these suggestions today to keep your brain at its best with small and simple changes that stick!
This article has been sponsored by BOOST®, but all comments and opinions are my own.
[i] Harvard Medical School. “Boost your memory by eating right.” Harvard Health Publications, 2012. Retrieved from: http://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/boost-your-memory-by-eating-right
[ii] Gomez-Pinilla, F. “Brain foods: the effects of nutrients on brain function.” Natural Review Neuroscience, 2017. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2805706/
[iii] Harvard Medical School. “Boost your memory by eating right.”Harvard Health Publications, 2012. Retrieved from: http://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/boost-your-memory-by-eating-right
[v] Rozycka A, Jagodzinski PP, Kozubski W, Lianeri M, Dorszewska J. “Homocysteine Level and Mechanisms of Injury in Parkinson's Disease as Related to MTHFR, MTR, and MTHFD1 Genes Polymorphisms and L-Dopa Treatment.” Curr Genomics, 2013. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3924248/
[vi] Dietitians of Canada. “B Vitamins.” Your Health, 2017. Retrieved from: https://www.dietitians.ca/Your-Health/Nutrition-A-Z/B-Vitamins.aspx (Accessed June 2, 2017)
[vii] National Institutes of Health. “Folate.” Factsheets, 2017.
Retrieved from:https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Folate-HealthProfessional/ (Accessed June 2, 2017)
[viii] National Institutes of Health. “Vitamin E.” Factsheets, 2017. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminE-HealthProfessional/ (Accessed June 2, 2017)
[ix] Williams, K. & Kemper, S. “Exploring Interventions to Reduce Cognitive Decline in Aging.” Journal of Psychosocial Nursing and Mental Health Services, 2010. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2923489/
[x] Cassel, CK. (2002) “Use it or lose it: activity may be the best treatment for aging.”
[xi] Etnier JL, Nowell PM, Landers DM, Sibley BA. “A meta-regression to examine the relationship between aerobic fitness and cognitive performance.” Brain Research Reviews, 2006. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16490256
[xii] Williams, K. & Kemper, S. “Exploring Interventions to Reduce Cognitive Decline in Aging.” Journal of Psychosocial Nursing and Mental Health Services, 2010. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2923489/