Foods that Help and Harm Brain Health

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Physicians Regional Healthcare System

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Jul 18, 2023

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Florida - Southwest

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For optimal brain function, strike these three foods from your diet:

  1. Processed or pre-cooked foods. Processed foods tend to have more fat, sugar and preservatives than non-processed foods. In a Journal of Clinical Investigation study, researchers found that these high-fat foods can negatively impact the hypothalamus — the portion of the brain that regulates hunger and thirst levels. Because of this, you could wind up eating and drinking more processed foods, resulting in an unhealthy dietary pattern.
  2. High-sugar foods. U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse study reported sugar-hooked brains change in similar ways as those addicted to cocaine and alcohol. Sugar addiction is linked to the surge of dopamine that floods the brain when you eat your favorite candy. High-sugar diets have also been connected with memory loss, dementia, Alzheimer’s and brain fog.
  3. Fried foods. Fried foods are high in cholesterol. According to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, a diet high in cholesterol may be linked to the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers found that people with high LDL (bad) cholesterol and low HDL (good) cholesterol were more likely to have beta-amyloid proteins in their brains, a warning sign of Alzheimer’s disease.

Research in the Alzheimer’s & Dementia journal suggests a MIND diet for your brain. The MIND diet — whole grains, lean fish, chicken, vegetables, olive oil, nuts, berries, beans, leafy greens and wine — borrows from the Mediterranean diet and the Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension diet (DASH). These targeted foods lowered participants’ risk for Alzheimer’s by up to 53% when included in regular meal plans. Ways to take this approach are to:

  • Go green by adding kale or spinach to your morning smoothie, or eat a healthy salad for lunch with roasted chicken, walnuts, chickpeas, cooked quinoa and sliced strawberries on top.
  • Include the occasional fish fillet like baked salmon with fresh lemon.
  • Toss in a snack of almonds or walnuts for a mid-afternoon energy boost.
  • Add a glass of wine with your final meal of the day.
  • For additional brain power, try a blueberry smoothie. A study from Reading University revealed people experienced increased concentration and memory skills up to five hours after drinking one.


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You are what you eat. While this idea might be overblown, its not a baseless claim. Good health has a lot to do with your diet. A healthy, well-balanced diet boots and maintains health, even when other factors like genetics emerge. And as you age, the foundation of a nutritious, beneficial diet is even more critical as chronic illnesses become more likely.Additionally, a nutritious diet can help offset natural decline, helping you to maintain strength, cognitive function, and bone mass. You can give yourself an edge when you choose nutrient-dense foods that boost areas of health more efficiently. You can only eat so many calories in a day, so making each one count can tremendously impact your physical well-being.Here, youll find a list of superfoods, their benefits, and what foods contain them.What Are Superfoods?Science doesnt define superfoods or categorize food based on this concept. However, nutrition experts use this term to distinguish foods that are more nutrient dense than others and are therefore more beneficial to health. In other words, these foods pack the most punch in terms of nutrition.They are functional foods that contain more nutrients than other foods. Functional foods are essentially foods that have meaningful nutritional value. For example, an apple is a functional food, but potato chips arent. Superfoods are considered the stars of functional foods.Why Should Seniors Eat More Superfoods?As a senior adult, your body is in another season of change as your various systems shift into decline. You need fewer calories and are more prone to disease and decreased function. This means you have fewer calories available to deliver nutrition to your body. Rather than eating 1,500 calories of nutrient-poor foods, you should focus on eating the same amount of calories in the form of nutrient-rich foods. 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Green, Leafy Vegetables Are a SuperfoodGreen leafy veggies are packed with antioxidants that remove free radicals from your body. These unstable molecules build up in your cells and damage the cells around them. This process is known to cause many diseases associated with aging like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.You can lower your risk of developing these diseases when you minimize free radicals. Superfoods such as leafy greens fight to rid these foes from your body and are a great ally in the fight against unhealthy aging and disease.Leafy greens are also high in vitamin K, which helps protect you from osteoporosis and blood clots. Other notable nutrients packed inside this superfood include folate, magnesium, and potassium.According to The Dietary Guidelines for Americans, seniors should eat 2.5 cups of vegetables and 2 cups of fruit daily. 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Top Foods for Individuals with Alzheimer's

Alzheimer's, a brain condition affecting millions globally, has no known cure. Recent studies indicate that diet can play a role in managing symptoms and potentially slowing down the progression of the disease. Consuming foods rich in nutrients can promote brain health, reduce inflammation, and boost cognitive abilities. This article delves into the recommended foods for those with Alzheimer's, shedding light on how they contribute to health.1. Green Leafy VegetablesGreen leafy veggies such as spinach, kale, and Swiss chard are packed with nutrients that support brain function. They are abundant in vitamin K, lutein, folate, and beta-carotene, all associated with a decline in cognitive abilities. Research indicates that regular consumption of these greens may enhance memory and cognitive performance.Benefits:Vitamin K: Crucial for cognitive processes and minimizing neuronal damage.Folate: Aids brain cell function and lowers homocysteine levels, a risk factor for neurodegenerative conditions.Lutein and Beta Carotene: Antioxidants that safeguard brain cells against harm.2. Fatty FishRich in omega-3 fatty acids like DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, and sardines are highly beneficial for brain health. Omega-3 fatty acids play a role in maintaining brain health, managing inflammation, and supporting the function of neurons.Reasons for Their Benefits:DHA (docosahexaenoic acid): Essential for brain structure and cognitive performance.EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid): Helps reduce inflammation, a factor in the progression of Alzheimer's disease.Enhances Synaptic Plasticity: Boosts the brain's capacity to establish connections.3. BerriesBerries like blueberries, strawberries, and blackberries are packed with antioxidants, particularly flavonoids. These compounds aid in reducing oxidative stress and inflammation, both of which contribute significantly to Alzheimer's disease.Reasons for Their Benefits:Anthocyanins: Enhance communication between brain cells and decrease inflammation.Flavonoids: Associated with slower cognitive decline and improved memory.Polyphenols: Safeguard neurons and improve brain function.4. NutsNuts, especially walnuts, are sources of healthy fats, antioxidants, and vitamin E that benefit brain health. Regular nut consumption is linked to enhanced cognitive function and a reduced risk of Alzheimer's disease.Reasons for Their Benefits:Vitamin E: An antioxidant that shields cells from oxidative damage.Healthy Fats: Maintain brain structure and function.Omega-3s in Walnuts: Contribute to decreased inflammation and better neuron communication.5. 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Cruciferous VegetablesCruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts are rich in antioxidants and vital nutrients that support brain health.How They Help:Sulforaphane: An antioxidant that safeguards brain cells and decreases inflammation.Vitamin K and Folate: Support cognitive function and maintain brain cell health.Detoxifying Compounds: Help eliminate toxins that can harm the brain.8. SeedsSeeds such as flaxseeds, chia seeds, and pumpkin seeds contain omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and fiber. They promote brain health and overall well-being.Why They Are Beneficial:Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Improve cognitive function and reduce inflammation.Magnesium: Supports brain health and functioning.Fiber: Supports a healthy gut, which is connected to brain health.9. LegumesLegumes like lentils, beans, and chickpeas are sources of protein, fiber, and B vitamins. 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Regular consumption of tomatoes may help lower the risk of cognitive decline.Reasons for Benefits:Lycopene: Combats oxidative stress and inflammation to protect brain cells.Vitamins A and C: Support overall brain health.Folate: Essential for cognitive function.14. AvocadosAvocados are packed with healthy fats, fiber, and essential vitamins. They help to maintain brain health by enhancing blood circulation and lowering blood pressure, both of which are crucial for cognitive abilities.Reasons for Their Effects:Monounsaturated Fats: Aid in supporting brain structure and function.Vitamin E: Acts as an antioxidant that shields brain cells.Folate: Promotes cognitive performance and the well-being of brain cells.15. EggsEggs are a source of choline, a nutrient essential for brain wellness. 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The Importance of Senior Nutrition

GOOD NUTRITION IS THE FOUNDATION FOR GOOD HEALTH.A combination of proper nutrients and exercise can help prevent a variety of chronic diseases. Throughout the aging process, bone and muscle mass is lost as metabolisms change. Due to the unique nutritional needs of seniors, taking the proper measures to provide wholesome, healthy foods is key to avoiding malnutrition and disease.NUTRITION RECOMMENDATIONS FOR SENIORS Though seniors often have lower calorie requirements, they may need more nutrients than younger people. As we age, our ability to absorb nutrients from our food becomes less efficient. Creating a plan with a health professional, such as a dietician, can help seniors age with optimal nourishment.Nutrient-Dense Meals and SnacksUnderstanding the key nutrients for seniors, such as lean protein, fiber, calcium, potassium, and vitamin D can result in healthier plates. Whole grains and dairy products both provide a boost to a seniors daily nutrition goal. Hearty soups are popular, as they are easily chewed and can provide vegetables, protein, and grains in a single bowl.Hydration, Hydration, HydrationSome seniors begin to lose the sensation of thirst, which may lead to dehydration and difficulty digesting meals. Sugary drinks, such as soda and fruit juice with added sweeteners should be enjoyed in moderation. Low-fat milk helps to hydrate and also provides key nutrients, such as protein, potassium, and calcium. Calorie Intake Seniors who find themselves struggling to consume enough calories each day should consider switching to full-fat milk and adding healthy fats and oils to boost calories. Nut butter and avocados are ideal and spread easily on toast or as a standalone snack. Dietary Supplements When NeededDepending on the seniors health, supplements may be recommended. One example is many seniors are prone to calcium and Vitamin D deficiency, which affects bone health. Supplements may help with deficiencies and can in the form of a daily meal-replacement shake or chewable vitamins and minerals. Focus On VarietyHealth experts encourage people of all ages to eat the rainbow. By filling a plate with diverse, colorful options, appetites increase and mealtime becomes more stimulating. Encourage variety to avoid the boredom associated with repetition.WHAT WE CAN DO TO HELPAt Celebration Villa of South Hills, we believe in providing practical tips to help ensure that our senior residents obtain proper nutrition. If unintentional weight loss has occurred, its important to visit a doctor to ensure there are no underlying medical causes. A doctor can provide a referral to a dietician, who is best equipped to build a personalized plan to promote a nourishing eating regimen tailored specifically for our residents.We understand that seniors who have recently experienced the loss of a spouse or a close friend are prone to loneliness, which can escalate to a depressive state. This makes it difficult for our seniors to cook or feed themselves, even if theyre otherwise independent. Thats why, at Celebration Villa of Teays Valley, we encourage all families to check on their loved ones. You can support them by providing healthy meals or accompanying them out to eat to encourage conversation and enjoy a hearty plate together.Within our senior living community, we provide nutritious meals each day, and there is a strong sense of social belonging built around eating together. We take great care to ensure that each resident is meeting their personal nutrition goals. Our dedicated team works closely with licensed nutritionists to create a menu of wholesome, healthy, and delicious meals that cater to the unique needs of our seniors.

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Physicians Regional Healthcare System

Physicians 6101 Pine Ridge Rd., Naples, Florida, 34119

Physicians Regional Healthcare System's two Naples hospitals provide quality care to the Naples and the greater Southwest Florida community with the objective of offering more options and improved access to healthcare for all citizens and visitors. Our two Naples hospitals and more than 300 physicians are recognized within their fields, offering advanced medical care in more than 45 specialties and subspecialties, including programs in 24-hour emergency care, cardiology, vascular disease, digestive diseases, research, orthopedic care, spine care, neurosurgery, and women's services.Physicians Regional - Collier Boulevard and Physicians Regional - Pine Ridge are conveniently located near where you live and work.Service Offerings Include:(Click a service to learn more)Bariatric Weight Loss ServicesCancer CareColorectal CareCritical Care MedicineDermatology ServicesDigestive HealthEmergency ServicesEndocrinologyGastroenterologyHeart CareInfectious Disease CareKidney DisordersLaboratory ServicesNeurologyOrthopedic ServicesPain ManagementPrimary CarePulmonology CareRadiologyRehabilitation ServicesRheumatologyStroke CareSurgical ServicesUrologyVein Care CenterWomen's HealthWound CareTo see which medical center or hospital is closest to you, CLICK HERE, to view all locations!

Physicians Regional Healthcare System

Hospitals 6101 Pine Ridge Rd., Naples, Florida, 34119

Physicians Regional Healthcare System's two Naples hospitals provide quality care to the Naples and the greater Southwest Florida community with the objective of offering more options and improved access to healthcare for all citizens and visitors. Our two Naples hospitals and more than 300 physicians are recognized within their fields, offering advanced medical care in more than 45 specialties and subspecialties, including programs in 24-hour emergency care, cardiology, vascular disease, digestive diseases, research, orthopedic care, spine care, neurosurgery, and women's services.Physicians Regional - Collier Boulevard and Physicians Regional - Pine Ridge are conveniently located near where you live and work.Service Offerings Include:(Click a service to learn more)Bariatric Weight Loss ServicesCancer CareColorectal CareCritical Care MedicineDermatology ServicesDigestive HealthEmergency ServicesEndocrinologyGastroenterologyHeart CareInfectious Disease CareKidney DisordersLaboratory ServicesNeurologyOrthopedic ServicesPain ManagementPrimary CarePulmonology CareRadiologyRehabilitation ServicesRheumatologyStroke CareSurgical ServicesUrologyVein Care CenterWomen's HealthWound CareTo see which medical center or hospital is closest to you, CLICK HERE, to view all locations!