- On June 6, 2016
Nutrition is a major component of overall health and also plays a major role in proper brain function. A healthy diet can lower an individual’s risk of chronic illnesses like heart disease, hypertension and diabetes. While the National Institute of Health says that there is insufficient evidence to show that food can prevent Alzheimer’s disease, balanced nutrition can improve physical health. The following foods are a great source of the nutrients that support proper mental function, particularly for seniors. Physical health plays a significant role in our mental health because our brains react to how we treat our bodies. If we eat unhealthy foods and avoid exercise, our brains don’t release chemicals that are conducive to feelings of well-being, or contribute to our overall wellness.
Tuna, salmon and similar fish are high in DHA and omega-3 fatty acids. These chemicals help to boost the normal functioning of the mind. As an added benefit, fish are significantly lower in artery-clogging fats than red meat.
Blueberries are rich in antioxidants and nutrients that help prevent oxidative stress. Because oxidative stress is higher in older individuals, blueberries may help with age-related medical problems like dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
Oils, Nuts and Whole Grains
Research shows that foods that are high in vitamin E can help to keep neurons in the brain from dying. Since Alzheimer’s disease is caused by the death of neurons, a healthy dosage of vitamin E may help slow the progress of the disease. A diet rich in oil-based salad dressings, nuts and grains can ensure that individuals consume enough vitamin E.
Avocados are great for mental health because they are high in monounsaturated fat. This helps to stimulate blood flow to the brain, and avocados can help to lower the blood pressure. Both benefits can help to boost overall brain health, so enjoy that bowl of guacamole!
Like anyone else trying to achieve optimal health, aging adults should eat plenty of dark, green, leafy vegetables. Kale, broccoli and spinach are all excellent sources of folate and vitamin E. Although scientists are not sure how folate protects the brain, research indicates this nutrient lowers the amount of homocysteine, a chemical that can cause nerve cells to die, in the blood. Lower levels of homocysteine means less risk of nerve cell death.
Studies show that drinking two or three cups of tea a day can enhance an individual’s mood, memory and focus. In addition, tea has a type of antioxidant known as catechines that help to boost blood flow. When consumed in moderation, the caffeine in the tea can improve an individual’s ability to focus and stay alert.
Sunflower seeds are also a great source of brain-boosting vitamin E. A single ounce of these seeds provides 30 percent of the recommended daily intake of vitamin E. They can be sprinkled on a salad or eaten as a snack for a quick vitamin E boost.
Healthy living is important for every age group. For aging adults at Gable Pines, optimal nutrition can help to slow the progress of mental decline and aid in the pursuit of overall physical wellness.
At Gable Pines, seniors can enjoy a well-balanced diet, catered by our professional chefs with senior health needs in mind. For more information concerning our healthcare programs and the services offered at Gable Pines, please contact us today.