Dr. Gene Bowman, at the Oregon Health & Science University’s Brain Institute, knows that what you eat makes a difference in the health of your brain, and how food impacts both the functioning of your brain and your memory skills. He and other researchers conducting the ongoing Oregon Brain Aging Study have concluded that there appear to definitely be certain diets that result in improved brain function, and others that lead to reduced memory, shrinking of the brain, and diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
At the top of the “bad foods” list: trans fats. Doctors have been recommending that people avoid trans fats for decades because of the fact that they have a negative effect on the body’s health, but now there’s evidence that they have an even more negative effect on the brain. In particular, they lead to shrinking of the brain tissue; and the less tissue there is, the fewer neurons and other brain cells are available to ensure proper mental functioning. Trans fats are frequently found in processed foods, including much of what’s on the menu at a typical fast-food restaurant. Most people don’t realize, however, that many common bakery items – including bread and crackers – also contain trans fats. Check the label of things you buy for “partially hydrogenated” oil of any kind, and avoid it. If you’re used to buying your doughnuts and cupcakes at a bakery instead of the grocery, ask the owners what they use in their recipes. You can also make your cookies and cakes at home, choosing healthier options like olive or canola oil.
The OHSU study has also confirmed that several vitamins are incredibly important for maintaining brain health and mental function. Vitamins B (especially B-1, B-2, B-12 and B-9), D, E, and C should be part of everyone’s daily diet. People who had diets high in these good nutrients scored nearly 20 percent higher in mental exercises, and had much less brain shrinkage evident. Look for foods that contain these vitamins and add them to your shopping cart today:
- nuts, legumes, green leafy vegetables, whole grains (B-1 and B-9)
- eggs, milk, broccoli, lean beef, chicken (B-2 and B-12)
- salmon, sardines, mackerel and other oily fish (B, D, and Omega 3 fatty acids)
- citrus fruit, tomatoes, peppers (C)
- olive oil, avocados, nuts (E)
Get more information from the OHSU Brain Institute here.