Eat less; move more; live longer is still the mantra here. We want to live as long as possible and also have a fully functioning brain all the way. I consider exercise to be one of the keys, but certainly diet plays a part, too.
Tufts Food & Nutrition Letter says that the science of whether some dietary choices can be considered brain food or not continues to unfold.
Given long time-frames of conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, it’s challenging to prove any cause and effect relationship between specific foods and brain health. Most such associations are drawn from observational studies, in which people who eat more or less of a certain food are assessed over time for cognitive changes.
It’s obviously difficult to feed a group of study participants lots of, say, blueberries for several years in order to test their brain health at the end; that’s why clinical trials of so-called brain foods have largely depended on animal tests.
Nonetheless, some foods tend to stand out from the pages and pages of research results as most likely being protective for brain health.
Foods That Promote Brain Function
Brain foods typically contain one or more nutrients that scientists believe have positive effects on the brain and/or the cardiovascular system, which in turn affects the brain. These foods include: Continue reading
I ran across this in a Tufts health & Nutrition Update and thought it might be useful.
Q. I take fish oil for heart health, but some of what I read in the health press says fish oil doesn’t do much. Should I stop taking it?
A. Alice H. Lichtenstein, DSc, director of Tufts’ HNRCA Cardiovascular Nutrition Laboratory and executive editor of Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter, answers: “Current recommendations do not support the use of fish oil supplements to prevent heart disease in otherwise healthy adults. But the recommendations do support a healthy dietary pattern that includes fish (seafood) at least twice a week. There is little evidence that taking fish oil supplements instead of eating fish is beneficial, and by doing so you will be losing out on some other benefits of including fish in your diet.
“One of those benefits comes from eating darker-fleshed fish like salmon and trout, which contain higher amounts of heart-healthy unsaturated fats than other species. However, including any type of seafood in your diet is highly recommended if it replaces major contributors of saturated fat, such as burgers or a piece of quiche.
“As with any effort to improve diet quality, also consider the way you prepare the seafood. Avoid butter and cream sauces. Instead, use spices and herbs liberally and serve the seafood with lots of colorful vegetables, either included in the preparation of the seafood or separately.”
Among the dietary patterns specifically recommended by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) is the Mediterranean-style diet, which has been linked to reduced risks of heart disease and cognitive decline.
A healthy Mediterranean-style diet includes many of the same key ingredients found in MyPlate for Older Adults. The chief difference between a Mediterranean-style diet and other healthy-eating plans is the emphasis on unsaturated fats found in plant foods, especially monounsaturated fat in the form of olive oil. All healthy diets recommend limiting foods high in saturated fat, such as fatty meats and full-fat dairy, minimizing added sugar, and avoiding processed foods.
Eating More Like a Mediterranean
To move your diet in a Mediterranean-style direction, try these suggestions:
1 Eat plenty of vegetables.
Try a simple plate of sliced fresh tomatoes drizzled with olive oil, or eat salads, garlicky greens, fragrant soups and stews, or oven-roasted medleys.
2 Change the way you think about meat.
If you eat meat, have smaller amounts – small strips of sirloin in a vegetable saute, for example – or substitute skinless chicken breast or fish for red meat in a few meals each week. Continue reading
Regular readers know that I have lost three family members to Alzheimer’s Disease or dementia in general. So, my ears prick up when I hear of anything that might mitigate against these afflictions. Rush University Medical Center has reported just that.
Eating a meal of seafood or other foods containing omega-3 fatty acids at least once a week may protect against age-related memory loss and thinking problems in older people, according to a team of researchers at Rush University Medical Center and Wageningen University in the Netherlands.
Their research findings were published in the May 4 online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology. The study was supported by the National Institute on Aging and the Judith Zwartz Foundation.
The age-related memory loss and thinking problems of participants in the study who reported eating seafood less than once a week declined more rapidly compared to those who ate at least one seafood meal per week.
“This study helps show that while cognitive abilities naturally decline as part of the normal aging process, there is something that we can do to mitigate this process,” says Martha Clare Morris, ScD, a Rush nutritional epidemiologist and senior author of the paper.
Four types of seafood, five types of brain function
I’m in London this week for work, as our regular readers know, and I’m trying a variety of dishes I’ve never seen in the States.
My first lunch Monday was in a pub, albeit a newer one that looked more tourist friendly than old-world London. While everyone else got a version of breaded fish in a bun called fish fingers, I went for the most British sounding thing on the menu, Fisherman’s Pie. Even my British hosts weren’t sure exactly what it would be, except to say it would be covered in mashed potatoes, which it was.
My fisherman's pie, with a small salad.
Beneath the potatoes, which were covered with a melted cheese of some sort, were pieces of salmon, cod and perhaps something else, all in a cream sauce. It was quite tasty although I did not eat most of the cream sauce and left about half the potatoes and cheese. Continue reading