June is Alzheimer's & Brain Awareness Month. While you can't control your genetic disposition for Alzheimer's and dementia, you can optimize your physiological brain health, especially with foods that prevent inflammation. Nutrition psychology is an exciting new field that studies nutrition's role in improving mental health, including depression and anxiety.
High-quality foods containing vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants nourish the brain. Conversely, a diet high in refined carbohydrates, sugar, and bad fats can impair brain functions and worsen mental health symptoms. So if you're eating for optimal brain health, it's crucial to include sufficient proteins, veggies, and quality fats, including fatty acids.
The latest research has shown that the gut microbiota that makes up our microbiome affects the brain's physiological, behavioral, and cognitive functions. The relationship between nutrition and mental health is mediated by the gut-brain axis. The gut-brain axis is a communication network between the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord) and our gut microbes. Many studies have connected a healthy gut to a healthy mind. Fun fact: 90% of serotonin, the neurotransmitter needed for optimal mental wellness, is made in the gut.
Making a daily smoothie with our SuperFood protein provides vital ingredients for nourishing your brain, including veggies, inulin, and MCT powder, all organic.
Spinach, kale, and broccoli? We got ya. The cruciferous leafy greens we've included are rich sources of good mood nutrients like folate and vitamins A and C. These vitamins have antioxidant properties to help fight free radicals, those pesky molecules that can cause oxidative stress. In addition, the folate in leafy greens supports methylation and neurotransmitters' production, like serotonin, to improve your mood.
Inulin fiber: Inulin is a well-studied prebiotic. Prebiotics are types of fiber that feed the friendly bacteria in our guts. Inulin is a soluble fiber that helps keep us full. It stabilizes our blood sugars, prevents us from over-eating, and allows us to make better food choices. Findings indicate a negative impact of low dietary fiber on brain function and highlight a nutritional strategy of increased fiber intake to reduce the risk of diet-associated cognitive decline and neurodegenerative diseases.
MCT powder: Clinical studies are being conducted to see if MCT can improve cognitive function in people with Alzheimer's. Ketones, produced as you digest MCT oil, can quickly and easily be used by the brain for fuel. Additionally, preliminary but promising research on ketogenic diets for AD is underway. Ketogenic diets may promise viable and effective treatment strategies for Alzheimer's. More extensive studies are needed before this can be stated confidently.
Exercise is key, both aerobic and resistance training. Aerobic exercise helps increase Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) which plays an important role in neuronal survival and growth. Getting high-quality sleep is essential to help the brain filter out toxins and the sticky proteins that lead to Alzheimer's. It's essential to maintain a healthy weight, especially in midlife, and to keep blood pressure under control. Some studies show intermittent fasting can stimulate new neurons' production, increase the brain's ability to resist aging, and restore function to the brain following injury. Stress management is another critical factor—finding ways to deal with stress, such as mindfulness training and meditation. In addition, loneliness is strongly associated with Alzheimer's, so it's important to keep cultivating healthy relationships throughout life and not slip into isolation as we age.
Getting brain health benefits from a healthy diet is not just about eating one or two so-called super foods to improve brain function. It’s about your daily habits and lifestyle. it’s never too late to start! Check out Mediterranean and MIND (Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay) diets for more nutrition information.