Your mother probably told you to clean your plate because your brain needs food to learn. She was definitely on to something—what we eat absolutely affects our minds. In fact, the standard American diet of meat, potatoes, bread, sweets, and processed foods is a recipe for dementia.
Saturated fat fuels inflammation. Potatoes, breads, and sweets precipitate insulin resistance and weight gain. And processed foods are devoid of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients that nourish the brain.
So, what should you eat to support cognitive function?
- Replace meat with salmon and other omega-3–rich fish that dampen inflammation.
- Eliminate starches and sweets, and eat more beans, legumes, and other low-glycemic carbohydrates.
- Load up on protective nutrients by eating plenty of vegetables and a little fruit. If you’re looking for a food plan to follow, make it the Mediterranean diet, which, in addition to these items, includes modest amounts of olive oil and wine. A recent study revealed that older people who most closely adhered to a Mediterranean diet over four and a half years were 28 percent less likely to develop cognitive impairment.
- Drink coffee. You probably know that coffee makes you more alert and improves short-term memory, but did you realize it also protects against cognitive decline? Scandinavian scientists recently found that people who drank three to five cups of coffee a day during middle age were 65 percent less likely to develop dementia!
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