Several years ago, if we wanted to protect our brains and memory, we might have sat down to a piece of salmon, a bowl of tuna, and possibly a side of shrimp too. We were once told fish and other animals promoted long-term brain and even heart health. The thought was that omega 3 fatty acids fish contain were the best source to protect the brain, aid in neurotransmitter function, and prevent heart disease as a side bonus.
But things have changed. No longer do medical doctors idealize fish and other animal foods as a way to protect the body and mind. Many now even advise against them. Fish isn’t a health prescription, due to the heavy metals, toxins, and environmental damage its production creates. Sure, fish has omega 3’s, but better sources include chia, hemp, flax, greens, and even sea algae (where fish get their omega fatty acids to start with).
Alzheimer’s disease has been a mind-blowing medical condition that’s baffled health professionals for years, at least until last year. Studies from 2013 show that a plant-based diet actually reduces the chance of getting Alzheimer’s, and even reverses some of memory loss.
How to Cut Risk of Memory Loss
In fact, Neal Barnard from the Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine even says you can cut your risk by 70-80 percent by switching to a plant-based diet! Dr. Barnard and 15 other health researchers were featured at the International Conference on Nutrition and the Brain in Washington, D.C. in late 2013, and found that several key factors played a role in reversing and preventing memory loss. These include: minimizing saturated and trans fats (cut the animal foods and processed foods); eating vegetables, legumes, fruits, nuts, seeds, and whole grains in place of animal foods; getting enough Vitamin E daily (abundant in plant-based fats like avocados, olives, chia, and almonds); taking a Vitamin B12 supplement; avoiding synthetic sources of iron and copper (which may actually be found in fish and in aluminum pans); and walking 40 minutes a day at a brisk pace. Dr. Barnard also advises getting at least seven hours of sleep a night if not more, avoiding alcohol and smoking, and eliminating processed foods.
Dr. Michael Greger of NutritionFacts.org also says that a plant-based diet prevents neurological decline and even dementia, a similar condition to Alzheimer’s. The magic happens from phytochemicals found naturally in plants that increase cogntive function and enhance the brain. Dr. Barnard’s book, “Power Foods for the Brain” also details how whole, plant-based foods provide the key and essential nutrients our brains need to focus and keep us happy.
Foods to Eat for A Healthy Brain
If you’re looking for specific foods to eat for a healthy brain, focus on foods rich in B vitamins, especially folate, along with magnesium, Vitamin E, omega 3 fats, natural sources of iron and zinc, and natural sources of protein.
Here are some good options:
As you can see, it’s not hard to feed your brain, literally. Animal foods have shown to lead to inflammation, which causes mental decline, and processed foods are a health havoc all the way around. Take care of your brain with a plant-based diet. It’s gonna love you for years to come when you do.
Image Source: Nedra/Flickr