Brain health is a significant concern for every person going into their prime years of 65 and above. Your mental capacity controls pretty much everything in your life—thinking, planning, moving, and decision-making.
So, preserving it as you age is as important as safeguarding your physical health. Mental well-being affects the life you are going to live in the future, whether you can do it independently or with assistance.
Aging comes with tremendous changes in the body and brain. Some of its effects on brain health include:
- Difficulty in memory functions, such as recalling names and remembering things.
- Problems in motor and sensory function (e.g., slow movements, reduced senses, and inability to multitask).
- Thinking and focusing difficulties.
These changes are all part of aging, but that does not mean that you cannot do something about it.
According to studies, seniors can prevent cognitive decline by pursuing and committing to a healthy lifestyle.
This includes regular exercise, mental activities, being socially active, staying connected with loved ones, and the most important of all—having a balanced diet.
One effective way of boosting memory is to eat “brain foods” for seniors. These healthy foods can increase your brain function. Still, more importantly, they reduce your risk of ever developing neurodegenerative conditions, such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
So, what are the most effective brain foods for seniors, you ask? Here are some scientifically proven foods that will keep your brain sharp and healthy.
If you want to save your brain cells, then set aside your oily meat dishes and replace them with seafood rich in healthy oils, such as salmon.
Salmon is a top contender when it comes to health benefits. The cold-water fish packs hundreds of vitamins and minerals in its delicious meat. But one of its most important benefits is its omega-3 fatty acid content.
Omega-3s are healthy substances that act as an oil (literally and figuratively) to your body’s most crucial machine (the brain). It increases its blood flow and improves its structure, thus making it operate efficiently.
Moreover, studies have found that omega-3 fatty acids directly affect the brain’s cognitive skills, such as thinking and memory.
Considered as a “superfood” by many nutritionists, blueberries have numerous health benefits to seniors, including those that specifically influence the brain.
For starters, blueberries are a great source of antioxidants. They have an abundance of flavonoids in them that helps reduce body inflammation and oxidative stress.
It battles harmful chemicals (free radicals) in the brain that can damage the DNA and cause chronic illnesses such as cancer and Parkinson’s disease.
Other brain-related benefits include:
- Improves the communication between brain cells
- Enhances memory and critical thinking
- Prevents short-term memory loss
- Slows down brain aging and decline
Other forms of berries that can serve as brain foods for seniors are strawberries, blackberries, and blackcurrants.
Avocado is one of the most nutrient-dense fruits that you can easily add to your everyday meal.
A 50-gram serving of avocado already contains 20 different vitamins and minerals without added sugars, refined starches, and high-calorie count.
Further, it is rich in healthy fats (monounsaturated fat) that help reduce your risk of having high blood pressure—a significant contributor to cognitive decline.
It enhances the flow of blood in your body, and healthy blood flow equates to a healthy brain.
It also prevents you from contracting other conditions, such as heart disease, osteoporosis, and cancer.
So, the next time you are at the market, pick a handful of green avocados and include it in your daily diet.
Broccolis may have haunted you during your picky-eating childhood years, but it should not anymore.
Instead, thank your parents for pushing you to eat these healthy greens because they have a tremendous influence on your brain health.
Aside from being a good source of fiber, broccoli contains several compounds that work wonders for the brain.
- A single serving (91 g) of these leafy veggies deliver high amounts of Vitamin K, exceeding even the Recommended Daily Intake target. This Vitamin K helps the formation of sphingolipids—essential fat found in the brain—that, in turn, aids in improving the declining memory of older people.
- It also contains powerful antioxidants that combat harmful stress in the brain.
- It is brimming with anti-inflammatory compounds that protect the brain against damage and deterioration.
- It is rich in Vitamin C and antioxidants that boost brain health and the immune system.
Other cruciferous vegetables that serve as brain foods for seniors are bok choy, cabbage, kale, turnips, and cauliflower.
Green tea is one of the healthiest beverages ever made. It is loaded with healthy compounds that help keep your body in shape, lowers your risk from certain diseases, and of course, improves brain function.
Studies suggest that green tea contains a protein called L-theanine that relieves mental fatigue and reduces anxiety.
It works by increasing the activity of brain neurotransmitters responsible for releasing hormones to stimulate feelings of calmness.
Moreover, green tea provides plenty of antioxidants to the brain, thus boosting its memory functions and other cognitive abilities.
These antioxidants also protect the brain from unwanted inflammation that may result in the formation of chronic diseases like cancer, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s.
Lastly, it contains vitamins and enzymes that promote brain function, performance, and focus.
There are a plethora of foods that can help boost the memory and brain health of seniors. Other examples include
- Nuts and seeds
- Dark chocolate
- Whole grains
- Probiotic drinks
- Dietary supplements
The key is to diversify your meal plate and include as many brain-boosting foods into your diet as possible.
No single food can improve your brain health all on its own. However, a combination of healthy ones will surely do wonders for your mind and overall body health.
Since seniors have a delicate health stature, every significant change in their diet and lifestyle needs to be approved by their doctors.
So, before diving into a whole new brain-boosting diet, make sure to seek the opinion of your GP, especially if you have a pre-existing condition.