Doctor shares the best foods for brain health to help stave off dementia
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Dementia is triggered by damage to or loss of nerve cells and their connections in the brain.
While certain risk factors like age are non-negotiable, others are completely in your hands.
According to Dr Shireen Kassam, the founder of Plant-Based Health Professionals UK, a healthy diet is one of the greatest weapons you can add to your arsenal of protection against the mind-robbing condition.
Dr Kassam said: “The best foods for brain health are brightly coloured fruit and vegetables.
“Vegetables, particularly leafy greens, appear more important than fruit in protecting against dementia, with the exception of berry consumption, which appears highly protective against cognitive decline.”
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What’s more, a study, published in The Journal of Nutrition, also highlights the importance of eating fruit and veg early in life to prevent later cognitive decline.
Looking at more than 3,000 participants in the United States between the ages of 18 and 30, the research team documented the participant’s dietary intake.
Kassam said: “It found that those consuming the most fruits and vegetables in younger age had the best cognitive function later in life.
“Vegetable consumption had a greater effect than fruits, with nutrients such as lycopene from tomatoes/red vegetables and beta-carotene from yellow/orange vegetables having the best effect.”
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The doctor explained that it seems that fibre plays an important role in this “beneficial effect” on brain health.
Interestingly, the carbohydrate can lower your risk of many chronic diseases that are considered the precursors of dementia, including type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure.
Fibre also benefits your gut bacteria, which can consequently help reduce the levels of inflammation – one of the drivers behind the brain condition.
Despite a great variety of vegetables and fruits containing fibre, leafy greens seem to be especially potent.
Research, published in the journal Neurology, found that these veggies could make your brain almost 19 years younger.
The research team discovered that people who ate the highest amounts of leafy vegetables, or seven or more servings per week, had plaque amounts in their brains corresponding to being almost 19 years younger than people who ate the fewest.
Dr Kassam added: “We have enough evidence to support the important role of a healthy plant-based diet alongside other healthy lifestyle habits for promoting brain health and preventing dementia.
“Lifestyle interventions not only reduce the risk of common chronic health conditions known to increase the risk of dementia, but also address the underlying pathogenic mechanisms at play in the development of dementia.”
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