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Keep track of all the events and activities happening at Mills Estate Villa and get up-to-date on the latest news and innovations in senior care. We also share personal stories from our management, staff, residents and families. We hope to give you a small window into our lively community and further impress upon you the breadth of knowledge and services our community provides for those in Senior Independent Living.

Eat For Brain Health This Holiday Season and Beyond

Eat For Brain Health This Holiday Season and Beyond

Prevention is the best medicine in the case of Alzheimer’s and other cognitive diseases. While we don’t yet have cures for these ailments, proper diet has been proven to lower risk factors and/or reduce the severity of these conditions. The Mediterranean Diet is often touted as ideal for its focus on healthy fats, dark greens and fish. However, there is no single diet that works for everyone, so simply try to add a wider variety of healthy foods to what you already eat while reducing the amount of high fat, low nutrient foods you consume.

During the holidays, we are all guilty of over doing it with fatty, sugary foods and deserts. While it’s OK to indulge once-in-a-while, aim to add some memory boosting foods to your holiday feast, and beyond.

What Foods Should I Eat?

It is recommended to eat a variety of foods with a higher focus on fruits, veggies and getting more protein from plants rather than meat. While meat is fine to eat, you want to watch your saturated fats and empty calories from red meat and high-fat sauces. Great foods to eat regularly include:

Omega-3: Essential for brain and memory health, Omega-3’s should be eaten daily, whether from grains like flax, hemp and chia, or in the form of a supplement. You can also get Omegas from fish like salmon and sardines, or use an algae-based Omega-3 oil

Berries: Blueberries offer the most nutritional value, but cranberries, raspberries and blackberries are also great choices. The deeper the color, the more nutrient rich the food.

Cabbage: Brightly colored cabbage – often found in coleslaw – has similar nutrient levels as berries and is an affordable, year-round option.

Dark, leafy greens: Again, the darker the color, the more nutrients. Spinach and kale are great options; iceberg lettuce is little more than water.

Beans: Full of plant protein, beans are also high in fiber which is another crucial element to a healthy brain diet. Red kidney beans and pinto beans are cheap, simple to cook and easy to incorporate into a variety of meals.

Walnuts: Great for healthy snacking and an added dose of protein. Add to salads or just grab a handful, being mindful of portion size.

Tea: Green tea is full of antioxidants and natural caffeine. Green tea is also packed with polyphenols, carotenoids and vitamins. If green tea isn’t your cup of tea, enjoy any herbal variety, without sugar added.

Turmeric (curcumin): This flavorful spice is known for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, as well as for its role in slowing the aging process & preventing Alzheimer’s. Add black pepper when you eat turmeric for better absorption and consider a supplement in order to get it into your diet more regularly.

Fiber: Fiber is essential to helping the body absorb all of these nutrients, aim for 30 grams per day. Get it from whole grains like oats, flax, and chia; fruits like apples, bananas and avocados; vegetables like peas, lentils, broccoli and beans.

What Foods Should I Avoid?

A brain healthy diet is similar to a heart healthy diet, you want to avoid saturated fats and cholesterol and high blood pressure. Eating many of the above foods actually helps pull cholesterol from the body. Often, red meat has higher cholesterol and saturated fats, so keep it to a minimum. Stay away from any trans fats, there are zero benefits to them. Depending on your health history, your doctor may recommend avoiding specific foods – like dairy – so be sure to discuss any concerns with your provider.

Most of these foods are easily incorporated into your favorite holiday dishes. Sprinkle chia seeds or walnuts on your salad, choose dark greens over light, add berries to your morning oatmeal or beans into a rice dish or stuffing. Choose tea over sugary juices and consider supplements for any nutrients you may be lacking or just don’t like to eat.

The main goal is to eat a variety of healthy foods that you enjoy and to minimize the less healthy foods. A diet of deprivation is not likely to stick, so find some foods you do like and have fun with new recipes or simply spice up your favorite dish with a new ingredient. While diet is not a cure for Alzheimer’s and dementia, it is a powerful tool to prevent cognitive decline and keep your whole body happier. Be sure to discuss any major changes to your lifestyle with your healthcare provider first.

American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
Eating for Your Brain as a Senior
By Lisa Esposito
How to Promote Brain Health: The Healthy Aging Checklist, Part 1
By Leslie Kernisan, MD MPH

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