Proven Brain Protection With Smart Dietary Choices
With the rates of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia skyrocketing, you’re smart to want to protect your brain health. And as I’m going to show you in this article, it can be much easier than you might think.
Although the popular media and drug companies want you to believe that brain health is shrouded in mystery, research shows that there are reliable ways to keep your brain healthy. I’ve told you about some of those essential practices that can keep your brain in top shape in previous articles. They include things like getting enough sunlight and plenty of regular, quality sleep. They also include what you eat.
In today’s article I’m going to share with you what studies have shown are proven are the healthiest ways to eat to protect your brain. When you do these things, your chances of staying sharp for life are off the charts.
Eat Natural Foods
Many studies have shown that certain types of diets offer powerful brain protection. But the diets are diverse. They include the Mediterranean diet, the DASH diet, and the MIND diet, among others.
What all of these diets have in common is that they are are high in natural foods, including mostly whole foods. Don’t worry, though. That doesn’t mean you have to start eating nothing but granola! These diets all include lots of delicious, enjoyable foods.
Science has shown that diets that include lots of fruits and vegetables and beans along with dairy, starches, and natural meat, fish, and eggs, are the healthiest for brain protection.
On the flip side, what all the brain healthy diets don’t include much of are things like fast food, “vegetable” oils (soy, corn, canola), high fructose corn syrup, or lots of fried foods.
So take a tip from those who know and emphasize natural, mostly unrefined foods in your diet. The studies show that not only can diets rich in natural foods reduce risk. They can also improve cognitive function.
Drink Modest Amounts Of Caffeine
Studies also show that natural caffeine from things such as coffee or tea has powerful brain protecting effects. Of course, like all good things, it’s possible to have too much. But research clearly shows that 3 to 5 cups of coffee per day are not only safe, but healthy for most people.
The caffeine may be the most protective part, so you won’t get the same benefits from decaf. Science has found that caffeine can actually improve brain health.
As I’ve cautioned you before, however, coffee in particular can cause a stress response if taken on an empty stomach or without carbohydrates. That’s because the caffeine actually improves the body’s metabolism. So if you don’t provide adequate carbohydrates at the same time, you’ll run out of energy and crash. The result is a wired or jittery feeling. And that feeling indicates an increase in stress hormones, which can have negative impacts on health over time.
To get the benefits without the downsides, be sure to drink coffee with food or with carbohydrates.
The Right Fats
The right type of dietary fats can dramatically improve brain health according to research. As we’ll see, low fat diets are worse than diets with the right types of fats. But on the other hand, diets with the wrong types of fats are worse than low fat diets. The good news is that the right types of fats are the most enjoyable kinds.
A study pitted two groups against one another. One group ate a low fat diet. The other group at a diet that included one liter of olive oil per week. Long term the results were clear. The low fat group suffered more cognitive decline while the olive oil group actually improved cognitive function.
As I’ve explained previously, though, the type of olive oil matters. In studies the only olive oil that gives the real benefits is extra virgin, cold pressed olive oil. And, while the research isn’t entirely conclusive, there is evidence that only unheated olive oil provides the most benefits. Cooking with olive oil at high temperatures may reduce its beneficial effects.
I’ve also reported to you that when choosing olive oil, it is important to purchase from a reliable and high quality producer. And you should look for a product that lists only one ingredient: extra virgin olive oil.
Other types of dietary fats haven’t been as well studied as olive oil, but research does point out that some types of fats are more likely to have positive effects than others. And still other types can be downright dangerous.
The worst types of fats are partially hydrogenated vegetable oils. Margarines are made from partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, and should be avoided. Use natural butter instead. Partial hydrogenation has been linked with cardiovascular disease and cognitive decline.
The “vegetable” oils such as corn, soy, and canola are also dangerous. Although they have been promoted as “heart healthy”, the research shows quite the opposite. Plus, they are linked to dementia and Alzheimer’s.
The traditional, natural fats such as butter and coconut oil along with the already-mentioned olive oil are your best bets. They contain significant amounts of naturally-occurring, healthy saturated and monounsaturated fats that have been linked to brain protection.
When it comes to diet and brain health, the choices are clear. To protect your brain and even improve cognitive function, make smart choices. Opt for natural, fresh foods, and eat meals containing lots of fruits and vegetables along with other whole foods such as eggs, dairy, beans, and naturally-produced meats. If you are a coffee lover, then drink moderate amounts of naturally caffeinated coffee. And choose a diet that contains modest amounts of natural, traditional fats such as butter, coconut oil, and olive oil. Do these things, along with other basics such as getting enough sleep and enough sunlight, and you’ll stay sharp for life.