Follow the Mediterranean or the MIND diets and your mind will be sharper in six months — and less susceptible to Alzheimer’s disease decades later,” agrees Majid Fotuhi, M.D., medical director of NeuroGrow Brain Fitness Center and affiliate staff at Johns Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore. What makes these diets so powerful? Key foods within them have different brain-boosting benefits, Fotuhi says. Emphasize even a few of these and your brain will thank you for years to come.
1. Olive oil, green tea and leafy greens (broccoli, spinach and kale)
Each of these antioxidant superfoods helps fight inflammation. And while inflammation is the body’s natural response to injury, uncontrolled inflammation over time can damage the brain. Intervene with these anti-inflammatory foods before neurons die, and you may be able to restore normal brain function, says Paula C. Bickford, professor of neurosurgery and brain repair at the University of South Florida.
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2. Beets, tomatoes and avocados
These three darkly-hued foods help ensure that your brain receives the blood it needs to stay sharp. Studies suggest increased blood flow to the brain promotes neuron growth in the hippocampus, the area of the brain associated with learning and memory.
3. Nuts (especially walnuts), curcumin and pomegranates
These foods work deep in the brain to fight amyloid plaques. While amyloid is required for brain cells to communicate, when it accumulates several thousand times beyond normal levels, it forms plaques. These plaques kill neurons while creating inflammation, which kills even more neurons.
4. Fish, blueberries, grapes, coffee and dark chocolate
These nutrient powerhouses have been shown to increase the level of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a protein that supports the growth of new neurons. “It’s like Miracle-Gro for the brain,” says Fotuhi. “Stimulating the release of BDNF not only reverses the effects of aging, but also triggers the brain to make more neurons.”
Amy Paturel is a health and science writer in California.
Article by AARP