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Food for Thought!
Food for Thought!
A Healthy Diet Can Improve Brain Function As We Age

Forgetfulness is a common complaint among older adults.  As we age it’s harder for the body to fight inflammation and oxidative damage to cells, and blood flow to the brain is decreased.  There’s no doubt that a nutritious diet plays a major role in good health, but it can also improve brain function and boost memory.  Research has shown that certain foods help keep aging brains sharp, improve memory, and increase alertness.

 Eating berries and cherries, is a delicious way to protect your brain.  These fruits are a rich source of flavonoids, which decrease inflammation and help to combat oxidative damage to cells.  Try blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, and cherries; fresh, frozen or dried, they’re all great choices.

 Remember to eat your veggies.  Eating enough vegetables, especially cruciferous ones like broccoli, cabbage, kale and other dark leafy greens may help improve your memory.  In addition, they’re loaded with antioxidants to boost your immune system, and fiber to fill you up and keep you regular.

 Fruits and vegetables aren’t the only foods that are good for your brain.  Walnuts are an excellent source of plant-based omega-3 fats and polyphenols which may reduce inflammation and oxidative stress. A handful of walnuts makes a satisfying and tasty snack, helps to reduce cholesterol, and may improve working memory.

 Eat fish at least twice a week to get more omega-3 fatty acids, especially docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which is the most abundant fatty acid in the brain.  Salmon, tuna, sardines, and herring are all great choices, and remember to keep it healthy by grilling, baking or broiling; not frying.

 A healthy eating pattern with more berries, vegetables, walnuts and fish can help prevent or reverse declines in brain functioning.  These foods may also be effective in combating oxidative stress and inflammation.  Be sure to think about the foods you choose for lifelong body and brain health.

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Kirsten Romero
Kirsten Romero
Kirsten Romero, MS, RDN, is a registered dietitian with the wellness program at Senior Services of Southeastern Virginia.
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