Eating vegetables improves your mind. Researchers at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago evaluated cognitive changes in 3718 adults 65 years old and older and followed for 6 years. They found that adults who typically ate more than 2 servings of a vegetable daily had a 40 percent reduction in the amount of mental deterioration over 6 years. This meant their minds looked like they were 5 years younger! All vegetables, except for legumes, slowed loss of intellectual functions. The greatest benefit, however, came from green leafy vegetables.
Diet & Nervous System
1 AnswerDr. Dawn Marcus , Neurology, answered
1 AnswerFor a sharp mind, go wild with fish. While fish is generally good for you, the metals that accumulate in farmed fish like tilapia may contribute to cognitive impairments. So when you're shopping, check that the fish is from the wild, not domestically raised, and stick with heart- and brain-healthy fish, such as salmon and sardines.
3 AnswersDr. Lynne Kenney , Psychology, answeredThere are all kinds of claims for the abilities of nutritional supplements to enhance cognition. For example, vitamin B6 has been found to enhance memory (but far from conclusively) and there are many other claims being made by marketers for vitamins E, B12, folate, neurosteroids and so on.
However, in reviewing the research the Academy of Medical Sciences points out that most of the studies are few, far between and small in scope.
Verdict: Unproven, but probably not dangerous as long as you’re not exceeding the recommended daily allowances. On the downside supplements can be costly.
5 AnswersDr. Michael Roizen, MD , Internal Medicine, answeredTwo research studies drill down deep into food's good -- and bad -- effects on your gray matter. Here's the verdict:
- Good food results in fewer "silent" brain problems. Brain scans of 966 elderly New York City residents show that loading your plate with food from the Mediterranean diet (vegetables, fruit, fish, whole grains, nuts, olive oil, and a little wine) protects tiny blood vessels in the brain. People who ate this way had less blood vessel damage caused by silent strokes that fuzz up your ability to balance your checkbook, remember your neighbor's name, or play a mean game of pinochle.
- The right nutrients boost sharp thinking and keep your brain bigger, too! When nearly 100 elderly women and men had their blood tested for key vitamins and fats, then took a thinking-skills test (some had their brain size measured, too), an "eat healthy" pattern emerged among the people with the best test scores. Those with higher levels of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) omega-3 fatty acids and of vitamins B, C, D, and E had the sharpest minds and largest total brain volume. Those with the highest levels of trans fats -- the nasty fats found in processed foods -- didn't fare as well.
1 AnswerA snack of almonds and blueberries is better brain food than a candy bar. As they lower blood sugar, healthy snacks can improve cognition. In this case, the omega-3 fatty acids in the almonds and the antioxidants in the blueberries can keep your brain functioning correctly.
4 AnswersDr. Daniel G. Amen, MD , Psychiatry, answeredFood is medicine and can help you be trim, vibrant, happy and focused -- or it can make you plump, sluggish and sad. Navigate your way to the best brain foods with my 7 Rules for Brain Healthy Eating. These apply to everybody!
- Think high-quality calories in vs. high-quality energy out. Don’t let anyone tell you that calories don’t count. They do. But it is not as simple as calories in versus calories out. Focus on eating high-quality calories.
- Drink plenty of water and not too many of your calories. Your brain is 80 percent water. Anything that dehydrates it, such as too much caffeine or alcohol, decreases your thinking and impairs your judgment. Drink plenty of water every day.
- Eat high-quality lean protein earlier in the day. It helps balance your blood sugar, boosts concentration and provides the necessary building blocks for brain health. Did you know that spinach is nearly 50 percent protein? I use it instead of lettuce on my sandwiches for a huge nutrition boost.
- Eat low-glycemic, high-fiber carbohydrates. Eat carbohydrates that do not spike your blood sugar and are also high in fiber, such as those found in vegetables and fruits -- think blueberries, apples and whole grains. Carbohydrates are NOT the enemy. They are essential to your life. Bad carbohydrates are the enemy. These are carbohydrates that have been robbed of any nutritional value, such as simple sugars and refined carbohydrates. I like the old saying, “The whiter the bread, the faster you’re dead.”
- Focus your diet on healthy fats. Eliminate bad fats, such as ALL trans-fats and most animal fat. Focus your diet on healthy fats, especially those that contain omega-3 fatty acids in foods like salmon, avocados, walnuts and green leafy vegetables.
- Eat from the rainbow. Eat natural foods of many different colors, such as blueberries, pomegranates, yellow squash and red bell peppers. These boost the antioxidant levels in your body and help keep your brain young. Of course, this does not mean candy or jelly beans!
- Cook with brain-healthy herbs and spices to boost your brain. Turmeric (found in curry) contains a chemical that has been shown to decrease the plaques in the brain. Sage has very good scientific evidence that it helps boost memory. Cinnamon has been shown to support focus and attention. It has also been found to support healthy blood sugar levels, which improves brain function and decision-making.
3 AnswersDr. Mark Hyman, MD , Family Medicine, answeredFats are so powerful for brain function. Besides getting your metabolism straight, healthy fats really get your brain straight. Most people walk around feeling sluggish, and have brain fog and trouble focusing and concentrating. When you, add fats to your diet, your brain wakes up because your brain is made up of 60% fat. In fact, much of the brain is omega 3 fats. When you start to increase fat, your brain loves it. In fact, it runs better, in some ways.
We know that in certain brain diseases, like epilepsy, 70% fat (or ketogenic) diets help control seizures when nothing else works. We’re using these diets even in things like Alzheimer's disease and brain cancer to help the brain work better. This research is ongoing, even with schizophrenia, to see if it can help reset the brain. It’s fascinating research. I think we are going to learn more and more about the connection. But, fat is great for your brain.
1 AnswerReplace the olive oil in your favorite vinaigrette with walnut oil. Walnut oil, which is chock-full of brain-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, cuts brain inflammation, a precursor to many cognitive problems. It also keeps oxygen-rich blood flowing to your brain by thinning the blood slightly.
2 AnswersDr. David Perlmutter, MD , Neurology, answered
Believe it or not, the foods that are best for your brain health and immune system contain...fat! In this video, neurologist David Perlmutter, MD, discusses how pure, natural sources of fat and cholesterol are actually ideal for a healthy brain.
1 AnswerDr. Maoshing Ni, PhD, LAc , Geriatric Medicine, answeredNuts and seeds are wonder foods for your brain. Packed with protein and essential fatty acids, nuts and seeds are also chockfull of the amino arginine, which stimulates the pituitary gland at the base of the brain to release growth hormone, a substance that declines quickly after age 35; this is a real anti-aging bonus for your brain!