This week, I spent time reading scientific-based evidence about the connection between what we eat and our cognitive fitness. I learned about the 6 pillars of brain health and that Mediterranean Region has inspired a worldwide diet hopeful to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. I’m eager to share it all with you and implement some of my findings into my daily routine.
For many years, we have been told that there is little we can do to prevent Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia while hoping and waiting for a pharmaceutical cure. Recent studies suggest that there might be a light at the end of the tunnel: A healthy lifestyle. Research suggests that we can prevent Alzheimer’s symptoms and slow down, or even reverse the process of deterioration by eating right, exercising, staying mentally and socially active, and keeping our stresses in check.
Six Pillars of Brain Health
- Physical Exercise
- Food and Nutrition
- Stress Management
- Sleep and Relaxation
- Mental Fitness
- Social Interactions
Living a brain-healthy lifestyle and prioritizing the six pillars will keep your brain working stronger and longer. Here are six simple suggestions for each pillar:
Physical Exercise > Go on a 30-minute walk five times a week.
Food and Nutrition > Follow a Mediterranean diet (more on this below).
Stress Management > Schedule daily relaxation activities like yoga or a soothing bath.
Sleep & Relaxation > Create a bedtime ritual.
Mental Fitness > Enjoy strategy games, puzzles, and riddles!
Social Interactions > Take a group class.
BRAIN FOOD AND FOODS FOR MEMORY
The Mediterranean diet is a way of eating based on the traditional cuisine of countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea dating back to Italy and Greece in the 1960s. Researchers have noted that individuals originating from the Mediterranean region were exceptionally healthy compared to Americans and had a low risk of many lifestyle diseases. Numerous studies have shown that the Mediterranean diet can lead to weight loss and helps in the prevention of heart attacks, strokes, type 2 diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease.
A quick breakdown: The Mediterranean diet is rich in fish, whole grains, green leafy vegetables, olives, olive oil, and fresh fruits. Limiting red meat, sugar, and eggs, this lifestyle prioritizes foods high in healthy fatty acids and omega-3s.
Does this mean I can eat pitas and tzatziki for the rest of my life?! Sign me up!
While doctors are still constantly studying, it is known that what is good for the heart, is good for the brain. Eating a heart-healthy diet that is low in saturated fat reduces the risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity, all of which are believed to contribute to memory loss.
In conclusion, let’s all spend time with the people we love, doing the things we enjoy, releasing our worries with a walk, and watching what we feed our brains.
Harvard Health Publishing. (n.d.). Boost your memory by eating right. Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/boost-your-memory-by-eating-right