By David Blyweiss, M.D., Advanced Natural Wellness
August 9, 2019
There’s a good reason why levels of dementia are on the rise in the United States. And it has a lot to do with our “SAD” American diet (a.k.a. Standard American Diet.)
So, if you want to live a long life free from dementia, the best thing you can do is feed your brain the right types of food.
There’s an expression, “You are what you eat.” It’s especially true when it comes to your brain health.
If you eat the wrong foods – ones high in sugar and salt – you’re more likely to lose brain power as you age. These foods literally shrink your brain!
But, if you eat the right foods, you can take five years off your brain’s age.
And yes, people who eat certain foods – like the ones I’m going to tell you about – have bigger brain volumes. This includes a larger hippocampus, which is important for the formation of memories.
These folks also have more grey and white matter. Grey matter is where all of your neurons and synapses reside. White matter connects the different parts of grey matter to your nervous system. So both of them are necessary for your brain to fire on all cylinders.
Now, on to my food recommendations…
Take 5 Years off Your Brain’s Age
In general, I recommend people stick to foods with natural anti-inflammatories. This includes things like olives, curry, and a rainbow of fruits and vegetables.
Curry contains a substance called curcumin which has helped people in India avoid the high levels of arthritis and Alzheimer’s we see here in the United States.
I’m also a big fan of the Mediterranean way of eating and recommend it to all my patients.
The power behind eating like a Mediterranean comes from the abundance of healthy oils found in this type of cuisine. This is especially true when it comes to the omega-3 fatty acids found in wild-caught fish.
These omega-3 fats help to reduce brain shrinkage, strengthen neuron communication and increase blood flow to the brain. Additionally, eating plenty of omega-3 fatty fish helps lower blood levels of beta-amyloid, a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease.
Extra virgin olive oil is another staple of the Mediterranean diet. It contains an incredible antioxidant called oleocanthal. This compound boosts production of proteins and enzymes that are critical in removing beta-amyloid from your brain.
Now, it’s not hard to adopt a Mediterranean style diet. Here are a few tips…
How to eat like a Mediterranean
If you want save your brain and eat like a Mediterranean, the first rule of thumb is to ditch any packaged foods you’re still eating, even if they sound healthy. It’s also important to cut back on red meat and dairy products.
- Make seafood your first choice when it comes to animal protein. Select small, wild-caught fish like mackerel, salmon, herring and trout. Shellfish is good, too.
- Replace your vegetable oil with extra virgin olive oil. Use it as a marinade, salad dressing, drizzle it over fresh vegetables or use it to make a dipping sauce.
- Top everything with zesty herbs and spices that are filled with anti-inflammatory phytonutrients.
- Snack on tree nuts, like walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts… and enjoy a glass of red wine every now and then.
- Most importantly… make organic, antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables the central focus of your meals.
When it comes to your fruits and vegetables, try to “eat the rainbow.” And I’m not talking about Skittles. Each one of those colors you see at the produce stand – red, yellow, purple, and orange – are good for you and have higher levels of antioxidants.
For instance, if you choose a cauliflower, choose the purple one instead of the white. If you choose a pepper, choose the red, orange, or yellow one rather than the green.
Eating these healthy, natural foods are your best defense against developing dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. They’re also good for your heart, metabolism and weight.
So not only do you get a younger brain when you start eating them… you also get a healthier body!
Gu Y, et al. Mediterranean diet and brain structure in a multiethnic elderly cohort. Neurology. 2015 Nov 17;85(20):1744-51.
Pottala JV, et al. Higher RBC EPA + DHA corresponds with larger total brain and hippocampal volumes: WHIMS-MRI study. Neurology. 2014 Feb 4;82(5):435-42.
Fernando Gómez-Pinilla. Brain foods: the effects of nutrients on brain function. Nat Rev Neurosci. Jul 2008; 9(7): 568–578. 2013
H. Martinez-Lapiscina, et al. Mediterranean diet improves cognition: the PREDIMED-NAVARRA randomised trial. Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry, 2013.