As you age, keeping your mental faculties sharp is a key concern. Being careful about your diet helps you get the nutrients you need to optimize your cognitive health and mood. Here, we list 6 of our top foods for seniors’ brain functions.
As with every other part of your body, your brain needs a steady supply of energy to function. Energy, which is derived from glucose, gives us the ability to concentrate and focus. To attain this energy, choose wholegrains with a low glycemic index. Low-glycemic foods release their energy gradually into the bloodstream, which keeps you alert throughout the day. Without an adequate dose of healthy carbs, you are prone to irritability and brain fog. Examples of low-glycemic wholegrain foods include grainy bread, brown rice, and wholegrain cereals.
The body does not produce essential fatty acids naturally, so you have to get them through your diet. The most effective sources of omega-3 fats are oily fish, such as salmon, mackeral, sardines, herring, trout, kippers and pilchard. Plant sources of omega-3 fats include soya beans, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, and flaxseed. Not only do these fats help optimize brain functions, they help with heart health, joint health and our wellbeing in general. Recent studies have also suggested that omega-3 fats in diet can also help to relieve depression.
Studies show that consuming blueberries may help in improving or delaying short-term memory loss. You can also achieve this by consuming dark purple and red fruits and vegetables such as blackberries or red cabbage.
Strong evidence suggests that lycopene, found in tomatoes, can help protect against free radical damage to cells that occurs in the development of dementia, especially Alzheimer’s. To optimize the absorption of lycopene, opt for tomatoes cooked with a little olive oil. Other foods with lycopene or similar nutrients include watermelon, papaya and pink grapefruit.
High levels of a compound called homocysteine in the blood have been linked to an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, and other cognitive impairments. Vitamins B6 and B12 are known to reduce levels of homocysteine. Consuming them regularly thus helps protect you against the brain shrinkage caused by high levels of homocysteine.
Vitamins B1, B3 and choline also help regulate normal brain functions. Choline, in particular, is great for boosting the brain. All of these vitamins can be found in eggs. Other foods rich in vitamin B include chicken, leafy grains, fish and dairy.
It has long been hypothesized that vitamin C helps increase mental agility. Some research also suggests that a vitamin C deficiency can lead to brain degeneration associated with age, such as dementia. A regular intake of vitamin C also helps manage stress and anxiety. Blackcurrants are one of the best sources of Vitamin C, while other sources include red peppers and citrus fruits.
Keeping Sharp with a Good Diet
A good diet keeps you sharp in your golden years. To find out more ways to optimize your diet, check out our guide to eating well as you age. You can also exercise your brain in numerous ways, such as craft activities or board games.