Maintaining Brain Health

Healthy Diet

  • Maintaining a healthy diet not only keeps your weight under control, but also appears to reduce risks for various medical conditions, including diseases that affect cognition. A brain healthy diet includes:

    • Lots of fruits and vegetables*
    • Fish or poultry instead of red meat
    • Whole-grain breads and cereals
    • Alternate sources of proteins, such as beans, nuts and seeds
    • More olive oil and less saturated fat

    *The World Health Organization recommends at least 400g (3-4 servings) of fruits and vegetables per day to prevent chronic diseases.

    The Mediterranean diet, which is generally consistent with the diet described above, has received recent media attention for its benefits to the brain. These benefits include slowing of cognitive decline as well as reducing risk of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and progression to dementia due to Alzheimer's disease and related disorders (ADRD). Although researchers do not have an agreed upon explanation for why a Mediterranean might protect the brain, it appears to promote healthy blood vessels and blood flow, plus a healthy heart.

    Other diet strategies against Alzheimer's disease and related disorders (ADRD):

    • Calorie-reduced diets have shown to control weight, heart disease, and stroke from obesity, all risk factors for ADRD.
    • Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to reduce the risk of dementia by 33%. The correlation between omega-3 fatty acids and reduction of Alzheimer's risk is still being studied. Omega-3 fatty acids can be found primarily in cold-water fish such as salmon, mackerel, herring and sardines. 650mg is the recommended daily intake of omega-3s, an amount that is often difficult to get on a daily basis, therefore supplements are recommended. Additionally, when purchasing fish, those raised in the wild are recommended over farm-raised since the latter do not contain significant amounts of omega-3s.
    • Dietary antioxidants from fruits and vegetables reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer's by approximately 20%. Good sources of antioxidants include prunes, raisins, broccoli, berries, spinach, beets and red grapes.