Be Kind to Your Brain – Eat Healthily

May 19, 2015 in Health, Health Claims by Joyce Bunderson

It seems as though we’re all grasping at straws as related to risk reduction for Alzheimer’s and even less alarming cognitive decline. So far there are really no magic bullets or even expensive tablets that can ward off cognitive decline. But a study published online ahead of print this past week, hints that there may be something that we can actually do to lower the risk of losing brain function.

Our diet may be the fist line of defense in warding off Alzheimer’s disease, is the conclusion of a new multinational study. Researchers scattered all over the world (Canada, Ireland, Australia, England, and the US) followed a group of patients from 40 middle- and high-income countries. During 56 months of follow-up, 27,860 people were tracked; and 4,699 cases of cognitive decline were identified. The researchers found that those in the healthiest quintile of a modified Alternative Healthy Eating Index were at a lower risk of cognitive decline.

If unlike many of us, you are not worried about protecting your brain power, the study suggests that skimping on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and fish and including lots of fried foods, red meat and alcohol may be a road to increase the risk of cognitive damage. Those in the study who ate the most healthful diets were 24% less likely to have experienced cognitive decline in an almost 5-year period.

This new study was conducted with people 55 years old and over, but to accelerate cognitive decline earlier, it appears that heavy drinking does the job. An average of 2½ alcoholic drinks per day was associated with cognitive decline in a study reported last year in Neurology. In this particular study they followed a younger cohort. The result of this study reminds us that protecting the brain from heavy drinking should start early.

I know that sometimes people choose to temporarily numb their brains; but probably no one really wants to harm their brain. So the word is moderation. Eat greasy foods, red meat, processed foods, processed flour, and drink alcohol moderately, if not sparingly. Be generous with your servings of vegetables, fruit, whole grains, nuts, legumes, and fish; and maybe that decision will protect your wonderful brain. Certainly, eating healthily is related to reducing risk for many different disease states; so what do we have to lose? Eating healthier may contribute to a healthy body and a healthy brain.