Cognitive Health and Diet: How Food Choices Impact Brain Health
As scientists learn more about the impact of diet on your health, and how cognitive health and diet are related, it is becoming clear that what you eat and the foods that you avoid can affect more than just your physical health: Cognitive health is also tied to how well you nourish your body. More and more research is beginning to demonstrate a connection between what you eat and cognitive health.
Here is what you need to know about the relationship of your diet to your cognitive health and how you can nurture this connection.
New Study Demonstrates Connection Between Cognitive Health and Diet
Everyone understands that eating overly processed food can wreak havoc on your health. A new study recently presented at the 2022 Alzheimer's Association International Conference in San Diego demonstrated that eating ultra-processed foods in excess of 20 percent of your daily caloric intake each day can significantly impact cognitive function.
In the study, the researchers used a variety of cognitive testing to examine how efficiently and effectively the brain was working. This included the study of delayed word recall, verbal fluency and word recognition performed at both the beginning and the end of the study. The participants were also asked to detail their diet to determine a connection between food choices and cognitive performance.
The results found that the participants who consumed over 20 percent of their daily calories from processed foods demonstrated a 28 percent faster decline in global cognition in addition to a 25 percent faster decline in executive functioning when compared to the participants who consumed less than 20 percent of their calories from processed foods.
What to Eat for Optimal Cognitive Health
This recent study is simply another reminder about the dangers of eating too much processed food and the importance of nourishing your body with the right foods. It has long been known that certain foods offer a greater degree of protection against cognitive decline and dementia. By slowing down the natural aging process of the brain, you will enjoy greater cognitive function for a longer period of time, including reducing the chances that you develop Alzheimer's disease.
A diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables is the cornerstone of good brain health. Other nourishing foods to enjoy in abundance include olive oil, nuts and fish. While the occasional meat dish is acceptable, you will see greater results by focusing on a plant-based diet.
The bottom line is that nourishing your body with the right vitamins and minerals will help you to recall information more quickly while enhancing your perception of the world around you. Conversely, the absence of proper nutrition combined with a high intake of processed foods will decrease your cognitive abilities.
How to Protect Cognitive Health
In addition to avoiding processed foods, there are a number of other steps that you can take to protect your cognitive health both now and down the road. Here are a few of the keys to a healthy brain.
Make Exercise a Habit
Working up a sweat can do wonders for your overall brain function. Studies have indicated that exercise stimulates the brain's ability to fire on all cylinders. This works by boosting the ability of the brain to retain memories and learn faster. One particular study demonstrated that moderate levels of physical activity increase brain glucose metabolism, potentially lowering the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
Do not discount the power of a good night of sleep when it comes to guarding your cognitive abilities. Your brain resets and processes all of the information of the day when you are sleeping. Without proper rest, your brain will not be able to function as Mother Nature intended. Chronic sleep deprivation can be a significant hindrance to overall cognitive function.
Keep Stress in Check
Although some stress is a normal part of life, chronic stress can negatively impact your brain's ability to process and store information. Too much stress can alter the brain while impacting memory skills. This translates to a greater risk for dementia and Alzheimer's.
Be Social and Work the Mind
It is also important for people to stay engaged in social activities as they age. Participation in social activities has been shown to lower the risk of a myriad of health problems. Social activity will also keep the mind sharper, improving your overall cognitive function in the process. In addition to building meaningful social connections, these activities will also work the mind. For example, volunteering will connect you with others while teaching the brain new skills.
Take a Targeted Supplement
Lastly, a targeted supplement is a key component of any cognitive health and wellness plan. A dedicated supplement such as Neurochron is specially formulated to support optimal brain function and cognitive skills. The specific vitamins, antioxidants, phospholipids and cell membrane stabilizers in this supplement boost mental acuity while also guarding the brain against oxidative stress.
Understanding that health is more than just about how your body feels is an important step in protecting your overall wellness as you age. By being intentional about how you nurture your brain, you will also be protecting your cognitive function and health.