It is important that we look after our brains as, from the age of twenty, they begin to shrink by 2 to 3% in volume every ten years. So how can we best preserve the brain that we have with the food we eat?
The brain is made from cholesterol and essential fatty acids. These essential fatty acids can be found in oily fish, nuts and seeds. A good tip is to use walnut and flaxseed oil on salads and cooked vegetables. Coconut oil is a particularly beneficial fat for the brain. Have 2 tablespoons per day and you’ll notice a difference! You can use it to cook with or as a spread.
Fats, however, can easily be damaged (oxidised) so it is important that our diets are high in protective antioxidants that counteract the damage. Protective antioxidants are in all fruits and vegetables, another reason to eat plenty of them daily!
If you have type 2 diabetes, your body is less able to use glucose for energy. So look to the fats for energy. The brain loves them. However only eat plenty of the healthy fats mentioned above as opposed to the saturated fats from animal fat, margarines, salad dressings and mayonnaise.
Drink lots. If you are dehydrated cholesterol is deposited into cell walls to make them more rigid to prevent fluid loss. If you are well hydrated then the cell wall is more flexible and allows beneficial nutrients to pass in and waste products to pass out. This is particularly important for the brain cells. Exercising regularly and limiting your alcohol intake are two other important factors to consider for improving brain function.
So base your meals on vegetables and fruits, drink lots of water and herbal or decaffeinated teas and coffee, tuck into the healthy fats and aim to be as active as possible.
Challenging the brain keeps it going too, so have a look at our section on exercise !
Explore the website www.Alzheimers.org.uk for excellent advice.