Out of all of your organs, your brain requires the most energy. Because the brain is so rich in nerve cells and is responsible for just about every aspect of your daily functioning, it is the most energy-demanding organ in the entire body.
All 11 organ systems, including your central nervous system, need energy to function properly. This energy is provided by the food you eat. While most foods you eat will provide you with calories, or the basic building blocks of energy, not all calories are created equal.
Over the years, researchers have established a strong understanding of the role of diet and nutrition in brain function and overall brain health. Diets high in saturated and trans fats have been linked to increased cognitive decline and an increased risk of dementia development. However, some specific foods and diets are associated with healthy cognitive aging and reduced dementia risk.
Let’s take a closer look at diets and foods that benefit the brain and how to monitor brain health when modifying your diet.
While there are currently no proven strategies to prevent dementia, strong evidence from increasing amounts of research suggests that several aspects of healthy living, including eating a heart-healthy, anti-inflammatory diet, may significantly reduce the risk of developing dementia.
When it comes to diet and nutrition, what is good for your heart is good for your brain; research has revealed that foods that benefit the brain also promote heart health.
Here are some of the top foods that benefit the brain:
Three of the most studied and well-established diets for brain health and dementia prevention are the Mediterranean diet, Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet, and Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay (MIND).
These diets are relatively similar and typically are very low in sugar, processed carbohydrates, and saturated fats. They often include foods like leafy green vegetables, fatty fish, whole grains, poultry, legumes, nuts and seeds, berries, and healthy fats like olive oil.
A 2019 systematic review of available literature surrounding these three diets found that:
When modifying your diet and incorporating foods that benefit the brain to improve brain function, you or your provider will likely want to measure and quantify brain health over time to understand how dietary changes may be affecting it.
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