Brain Foods
Nourish Your Mind

Brain foods and all their wonderful benefits to your brain’s health deserve their own page on this site. Here is why…

Brain foods help the aging brain to work at an optimal level.

They keep your thinking sharp and your memory intact.

Can you think of anything more important in your senior life than a fully functioning brain?

Healthy foods keep your blood vessels from narrowing and clotting, thus allowing nutrients and oxygen to reach every part of your body - including your brain.

You may know this already - about 25 percent of the oxygen your body uptakes is used by your brain - even though your brain makes up only about 3 percent of your body mass. It uses oxygen as food for its mental activities.

To assure yourself of a healthy brain, there are foods that are specifically recommended and some that are to be avoided.

You may want to avoid foods and supplements that promote dementia and Alzheimer’s by changing your nutrition. 

Avoid meats and dairy - the prime sources of saturated fats and cholesterol. They impair memory and concentration. They increase your risk of dementia.

Besides, they’re high in calories. Eating too many calories in your senior years affects your cognitive abilities.

Instead, do eat many kinds of beans and legumes. As an excellent source of protein they replace meat just fine. So do mushrooms - for their meaty texture, and of course for their immune-enhancing and cancer-fighting properties.

Eat lots of green leafy vegetables. Especially good for your brain are kale, romaine lettuce, Swiss chard, arugula and spinach.

Eat whole grains like oats and brown rice. 

Other complex carbohydrates like whole-wheat bread, lentils and beans (those beans again?) are an excellent fuel for your brain.

Stay clear of foods that are high in processed and refined carbs like those sugary breakfast cereals or white pastas and rice. They play havoc with your cognitive abilities in senior life.         

Nuts and seeds are right up there with the most powerful brain foods.

Colorful fruits and berries should be a vital part of every senior’s brain-boosting diet. 

Mangoes, apricots, cantaloupe and watermelon come to mind.

And yes, dried fruits are an excellent source of trace elements.

Speaking of trace elements… 

Minerals are important to your health. But too much iron, copper, zinc, aluminum spells danger for your brain health. Recent research has linked them to increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease. 

Instead of absorbing these from supplements or cookware - or from the environment, which can be tough to avoid -  get them from eating a well-balanced plant-based diet.

You wanted to know about brain foods…

I mentioned some of these “smart” foods on the page titled Brain Health. But here goes…

Let me start with water. Yes, water. 

We older folks experience a gradual loss of our sense of thirst - and so, there is the threat of dehydration. Dehydration shrinks the brain.

Consider non-fish sources of Omega-3 fatty acids (highly beneficial for strengthening your brain’s memory-related synapses) such as

  • Walnuts, pumpkin seeds, ground flaxseeds and flaxseed oil
  • Pinto and kidney beans, soybeans (beans yet again, I know)
  • Broccoli, winter squash
  • Avocados 

Although good sources of EPA/DHA (Omega-3s), I do not promote fish and seafood. 

The reason is the rapidly increasing pollution of oceans, lakes and rivers. Of course, the food industry avoids telling you about the many toxins - like mercury  - that are now in most of these.

Get Vitamin E  - a key protection against degenerative disease and Alzheimer’s - from sweet potatoes and mangoes. And again… from nuts and broccoli. Got to love it.

Drink green tea for better memory and slowing down brain aging. Green tea’s antioxidants provide good protection against free radicals. 

You can get resveratrol, a flavonoid that helps reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and boosts blood circulation, from drinking moderate amounts of red wine. Obviously, the older you get, the smaller the “moderate” amounts should be.

But you can also get that same benefit from drinking grape juice, eating the grapes and other berries, and peanuts.

Beets help with blood flow to the brain.

Garlic has brain cancer-fighting properties.

I wanted to point out several specific food items that are of special benefit to the aging brain, but just remember this…

If you integrate these excellent brain foods into your varied and balanced plant-based diet, you can forestall a host of ailments and assure yourself of a more vibrant, healthy life for many years to come.

And, as I said in Brain Health -- make sure to keep your body - and with it your brain - in optimal shape, by exercising regularly. 

Moderate physical activity is a cornerstone of health and longevity.

And if you’re already in good shape, kick it up a notch.

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