It is National Nutrition Month and this year’s theme is “Fuel for the Future.” Eating healthy with a lot of nutrients will fuel our body daily but what we eat is also important for our wellbeing and long-term health. Eating a mostly plant-based diet with fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds, lean protein, fiber, and healthy fats is recommended in our daily intakes. Eating the right foods will fuel us properly for the day and eating foods that are processed and inflammatory will only slow us down and may lead to chronic disease.
Eating certain foods can help prevent dementia and improve one’s brain health as we age. The MIND diet (Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay) is an eating plan that focuses on mostly plant-based foods and antioxidants along with a reduction in saturated fats and added sugars. Vegetables, fruit, nuts, berries, beans, legumes, lean meats, fish and olive oil or avocado oil are all part of the MIND diet for brain health. It is recommended to limit sugary snacks, fried foods and saturated fats such as butter, red meat, cheese and certain oils.
Along with eating a well-balanced healthy diet comes exercise and stress reduction for improving one’s brain health. Cardiovascular activity and weight bearing exercise 30-60 minutes at least 5 times a week will provide many benefits to our overall health and prevention of disease. Exercise provides oxygen rich blood to the brain and also helps with stress reduction. Meditation, yoga, and apps such as calm or headspace can also help with stress reduction. Word puzzles, card games, reading are some of the activities we should do daily to keep our brain challenged.
Eating healthy and fueling our bodies with the proper nutrients can help give us energy and feel better daily. It is important to focus on what our body needs today but also these foods can help improve our memory and cognition in the future. Fatty fish such as salmon is a major building block of the brain. Antioxidants such as berries, broccoli, seeds, vegetables, tea, and coffee has been shown to prevent oxidative stress and inflammation. Food, exercise, sleep and stress reduction are all important factors for improving one’s brain health. Remember to eat well to “fuel for the future” and try to limit processed foods and sugar that may be affecting your ability to live your healthiest lifestyle.
Karen Caplan, MS, RD, CDN
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
Nutrition Transition LLC