The human brain is a marvel, and you likely want it to remain healthy throughout your life. This engine of life keeps your heart beating, lungs breathing and your entire body functioning. While many people might assume there isn't much they can do to ensure a healthy brain into old age, you know better — or at least you will by the end of this article.
Dementia and Alzheimer's disease are two things many people fear because it represents the loss of memory, the erasure of a lifetime. While genetics plays a significant role in the risks of such conditions, your diet also contributes to the
threat of future lost memories.
Making Better Dietary Decisions for Brain Health
According to the Population Reference Bureau, over 7 million adults, 65 or older, had dementia in 2020. They estimate that if health and demographic trends continue, that number will rise to 9 million by 2030 and 12 million by 2040.
Obesity and diabetes are two significant contributors to dementia risks, which means adjusting dietary choices can reduce personal risks. Experts suggest limiting or eliminating certain foods from your diet, primarily three.
1. Sugary Beverages
Consuming sports drinks, sodas, fruit juice, and energy drinks can increase your risk of diabetes because of the sugar levels; however, you might be more shocked at the adverse effects on the brain.
Many sugary beverages contain the ingredient high-fructose corn syrup, which is 55% fructose. High intake of fructose can lead to symptoms of metabolic syndrome, such as:
High blood pressure
High blood fats
2. Refined Carbohydrates
Refined carbohydrates include highly processed grains and sugars. White flour, white bread and white rice are examples of refined carbs. These types of carbohydrates digest quickly, which can cause a spike in insulin and blood sugar levels; this specific characteristic gives refined carbs a high glycemic index.
Foods with a high GI and a high glycemic load — the result of eating large portions of refined carbs — can affect brain function, including memory. In fact, research suggests a single high GI meal can impair memory in both children and adults.
3. Trans Fats
Trans fats are unsaturated fats that occur naturally in animal products. The fats are detrimental to brain health, which is why medical and health professionals recommend people limit their intake.
Experts are more concerned with industrially produced trans fats, such as hydrogenated vegetable oils found in shortening, margarine, prepackaged foods, etc. People who consume high quantities of trans fats are at an increased risk of developing Alzheimer's or experiencing cognitive decline.
Maintaining a Healthy Brain Through Diet and Exercise
There is no secret to maintaining a healthy and active brain. From the time you were a child, teachers, doctors and other health professionals have told you to eat healthily and exercise. If you want to keep your memories alive for as long as possible, embrace a balanced diet and live well.