Your brain isn’t ever something you were told you needed to take care of however, emerging evidence shows the importance of certain dietary patterns, nutrients and lifestyle factors in slowing or preventing cognitive decline and neurological disorders. Whether your goal is to stay as sharp as a tack or simply nurture a quick-witted and stronger memory, there are so many things we can be doing to boost our brain health.
Recommended Dietary Pattern
The MIND (Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay) diet is designed to prevent dementia and loss of brain function as you age. It combines the Mediterranean diet and the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet to create a dietary pattern that focuses specifically on brain health.
While the Mediterranean and DASH diet have protective effects on cardiovascular conditions that can adversely effect brain function, they do not focus specifically on the nutrients shown to optimise brain health. This is where the MIND diet was created - to emphasise the specific foods and nutrients shown to be neuroprotective.
The MIND diet was created with ten foods to focus on (green leafy vegetables, other vegetables, nuts, berries, beans, whole grains, fish, poultry, olive oil and wine) and five to limit (red meats, butter, cheese, pastries and sweets, and fried/fast food). The crux of this dietary pattern is already consistent with the Ministry of Health Guidelines - plenty of vegetables, wholegrains, legumes, fish, lean meats and healthy fats, in order to maintain a healthy weight, balance blood sugars and lower cholesterol and blood pressure levels. This helps reduce neuro-inflammation, oxidative stress and metabolic disorders that all contribute to the optimal functioning of our brain.
A day on the plate following the MIND diet
Breakfast: Porridge with chia seeds, berries and slivered almonds.
Lunch: Grilled chicken sandwich on wholegrain bread with salad.
Dinner: Grilled salmon, side salad with olive-oilbased dressing, brown rice.
Snacks: Fruit with peanut butter, vegetables with hummus, yoghurt, nuts, smoothies.
As with all aspects of health, it is important to use a holistic approach to promote healthy brain ageing. This includes nutrition and lifestyle factors that target both brain and overall health.
5 tips for this include:
• Exercising at least 3x per week
• Getting 7-9 hours sleep each night
• Brain games such as, Sudoku or Crosswords
• Reading regularly
• Managing stress
Our daily habits have the ability to influence how well our brains function when it comes to clarity, cognition and memory. Whether you are competing with The Chase on TV or in the process of mastering a new skill, a healthy diet following the MIND guidelines and implementing some of the tips above, will keep your brain nourished, nurtured and switched on.
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