With the current epidemic numbers of diagnosed Alzheimer’s disease, Americans are wondering how they can extend the health of their brains.
Studies in recent years have examined this question and found that eating 5-7 portions of fruits and vegetables each day increased mental well-being and happiness in a dose response manner. Meaning, the more portions you eat, the more mental well-being and happiness you experience.
It also matters whether the foods are raw, cooked, or canned, with raw having the strongest association with mental health.
You shouldn’t worry about over eating on fruits and vegetables, since most Americans don’t get the recommended five servings per day. And, fresh fruits and vegetables have fiber which fills you up and keeps you feeling fuller longer.
What are some good examples of brain-healthy foods?
According to Dr. David Perlmutter, author of Grain Brain, there are some foods that are great for increasing the longevity and health of our brains. These foods are:
healthy fats– extra-virgin olive oil, coconut oil, avocados, nuts and nut butters, and seeds (flaxseed, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, and chia seeds);
herbs– no restrictions; use your favorites to flavor dishes including basil, chives, mint, thyme;
low-glycemic fruits– bell peppers, cucumber, tomato, squash, pumpkin, eggplant, lemons, and limes (I like to include berries of all colors as well – strawberries, blueberries, raspberries);
vegetables– leafy greens (lettuce, collard, chard, spinach, kale), cruciferous veggies (broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower), artichokes, green beans, celery/fennel, legumes, radishes/kohlrabi, onion family (scallions, leeks, shallots, garlic), ginger, watercress, and parsley;
probiotics – from sauerkraut or kimchi and other fermented foods (non-dairy yogurt/kefir).
What can you do if you can’t get them all in each day?
You can supplement with powdered greens, resveratrol, DHA, turmeric, probiotics, and alpha-lipoic acid. But supplements can’t make up for a poor diet, so best to start there first.