Hands up everyone who walks into a room and stares blankly, wondering why they are there? And who hasn’t put the bread back into the fridge and the milk into the breadbin? Do you remember what you did last Tuesday without referring back to your diary?
As you age, the body’s ability to process nutrients decreases but it’s never too late to push back cognitive decline. By adding certain foods to your diet and avoiding processed foods (white bread, maize meal, sugar and fried foods) you can help your brain to function optimally.
A 2015 study, Mediterranean diet and brain structure in a multiethnic elderly cohort, published in Neurology (the official journal of the American Academy of Neurology) concluded the following:
Among older adults, MeDi adherence was associated with less brain atrophy, with an effect similar to 5 years of aging. Higher fish and lower meat intake might be the 2 key food elements that contribute to the benefits of MeDi on brain structure.
So, no matter what your age, these should be on your daily menu to improve your brain health:
- Low GI foods
- Fruit and vegetables
- Whole grains
- Omega-3 from oily fish
- Vitamin D from dairy
- Folate from dark-green, leafy vegetables (spinach, kale and so on)
- Magnesium from pulses, green leaves and nuts
We are lucky to have two nut shops right here in White River, Ambassador Foods and The Nut Tree. Nuts aren’t recommended for those with nut allergies, of course, but you could eat sunflower or pumpkin seeds instead. Eat nuts and seeds raw, and we are talking unsalted nuts, not those salty bar snacks we can’t stop shovelling into our mouths!
Whole grains and pulses, olive oil (add this onto your salad and pasta dishes) and berries should be eaten with abandon. Whole grains, pulses and berries are high in antioxidants and low in GI, keeping steady blood sugar levels. Berries are lower in sugar than most fruit. Get them from The Plantsman or Zannas.
Grumpy old man? Try eating these mood enhancing foods:
- Fresh fruits and veggies, particularly those with the richest, deepest colour indicating they are high in antioxidants.
- Dehydration is a mood deflater, so make sure you have your 8 glasses of water or herbal tea a day.
- Eat regular meals to avoid spikes in blood sugar levels.
- Stay away from sugar and refined starch, which affect blood sugar levels.
- Make meals an event and enjoyable – plan a variety of delicious foods in your weekly menu.