Do you misplace your reading glasses or forget where you put your keys? Perhaps, you’re bad at remembering names? While these things don’t necessarily mean you have a memory problem, forgetfulness is one of the things that we notice as we get older. But does that mean age-associated memory loss is something that we have to expect? Not at all. In my recently published book, The Gene Therapy Plan, I discuss what healthy aging should look like and what we can do to live an active, fulfilling life. To achieve optimal health throughout the course of our lives, diet, exercise, and adequate sleep help to foster healthy aging.
And consuming brain-smart food is an essential part of the equation when it comes to living well at any age. A healthy diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and fish is paramount in order to prevent memory loss, cognitive disease, and mood disorders. Through the revolutionary science of nutrigenomics — how nutrition affects gene expression and health — we can gain insights into the kinds of food we should eat and avoid. To learn more about the impact that food has on the brain and our overall health, sign up for my newsletter or pick up your copy of The Gene Therapy Plan.
- White flour lacks healthful nutrients and causes chronic inflammation and sugar spikes.
- Mild-to-moderate alcohol consumption of red wine has been shown to be heart healthy. But alcohol dependency leads to the loss of serotonin — the “happiness” hormone — and triggers impaired memory, cognitive decline, anxiety, and depression.
- Refined sugar may provide an energy jolt, but it’s only temporary. Unhealthy sugars promote inflammation and disrupt the brain’s ability to convert glucose into energy, to regulate the hunger-satiety hormones, and to release dopamine (feel-good chemical).
- Fast-food consumption has been linked to depression, irritability, and cognitive deficits. These foods also perpetuate the unhealthy cycle of craving more high-calorie food.
- High consumption of saturated and trans fats is linked to memory deficits. A study found that a high consumption of trans fat led to brain shrinkage that resembles Alzheimer’s disease.
- Walnuts have a convoluted surface that resembles the contour of the human brain. Packed with the antioxidant vitamin E — walnuts prevent against brain cell damage and lower the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
- Avocados, with their creamy, buttery texture, are loaded with healthy monounsaturated fats and vitamin C and E that bolster brain health and increase blood flow to the brain.
- Curcumin, an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compound found in the Indian spice turmeric, has been shown to minimize the formation of plaques found in Alzheimer’s disease.
- Cruciferous vegetables like kale, spinach, and broccoli are also packed with vitamin E and folate. Folate is thought to reduce the levels of homocysteine, an amino acid that damages brain cells.
- Eggs are loaded with choline, a precursor to an important brain chemical called acetylcholine that maintains memory and promotes healthy brain activity.
- Berries like acai, blueberries, black raspberries, and strawberries contain potent antioxidants that thwart cognitive decline.
- Dark chocolate contains polyphenolic substances that decrease inflammation and improve blood flow to the brain. Eat a few squares daily to bolster antioxidant effects that improve memory.