What Foods Should I be Eating, and Why?

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been asking myself this question for years. New diets come up, and all kinds of people claim different things. Some popular things are actually harmful to your body. I’ve done a lot of different diets. They have differed from cutting my calories anywhere between 600-1000, which I would never recommend. Not only did this not work, but it wasn’t good for my body. I’ve tried the low carb diets, but I found that I missed to many things to do it long term. After many different diets, I’ve landed on not worrying about the calories. Worrying less about cutting carbs, and focusing on eating foods that are good for my brain and body.

The plan I’m about to lay out for you shouldn’t be thought of as a diet. This is a LIFESTYLE. Put away the scale and calculator, as they aren’t needed. Pull out whatever you keep notes on, and get ready.

I started my research by looking for foods that will help fight against Alzheimer’s. My fiancé’s mother got tested and found out she got the highest risk gene for Alzheimer’s from both her parents. His father got tested, and showed low-risk genes from both parents. I’m not going to get all technical about how genes work, but basically my fiancé has a higher risk for Alzheimer’s. This drove me to the computer, and I spent countless hours researching.

What I discovered shocked me. It is relatively easy to lower your risk for degenerative diseases, like Alzheimer’s. Researchers believe that diet is key. Now this article isn’t about Alzheimer’s, rather what foods you should be eating. If you do want to learn more about Alzheimer’s specifically, I would go to one of these sites.

As a general rule I follow this picture.

Now let’s break down the sections on this picture, and get more in-depth as to why these foods are good for you.

Spinach is great, and easy to add to almost everything. It is high in flavonoid antioxidants, which helps the brain by reducing oxidative stress, some aging effects, and cognitive deficits.

Soy is amazing for your brain! The compounds, phytic acid, alpa-linolenic acid, bioactive peptides, and isoflavones, are shown that they may help prevent stroke and protect your brain!

Cruciferous vegetables, i.e. broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussels sprout, etc., have compounds that help prevent oxidative damage, and can even fight cancer cells. They have antioxidants that are able to cross the blood-brain barrier, so they can help protect you against free-radical damage, as well as cognitive decline.

Dark and leafy vegetables are shown to help with cognitive decline!

Specific vitamins and minerals to look for in your vegetables are ones that have vitamin K, lutein, folate, beta-carotene, B1, B9, vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, and/or zinc.

Omega-3 fatty acids are crucial to having a healthy body and mind. Research has shown that omega-3 reduces inflammation. This is linked to brain diseases, heart disease, cancer, and arthritis. In the brain, there is a high concentration of omega-3. It is vital to have this, or there can be issues with memory, brain performance, behavioral functions, fatigue, dry skin, heart issues, mood swings, depression, and poor circulation. Great sources of omega-3 are fish, garlic, whole grains, some fruits and vegetables, olive oil, and some red wine.

When it comes to coffee there are many great benefits when taken in moderation. Studies have shown that caffeine could reduce your risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s. In addition, it also has shown to cut suicide risk, oral cancers, and risks of stroke.

There have been studies that show that dark chocolate can possibly improve your brain blood flow, nerve function, and oxygen levels. This is done through the flavanols found in dark chocolate and cocoa. When it comes to cinnamon, it is great for your brain because it elevates the sodium benzoate levels in your brain. This has been shown to have effects on brain function, and aging. Cinnamon also can reduce blood sugar levels. Turmeric is great because of its anti-inflammatory properties and antioxidants. inflammation leads to many different diseases, and the antioxidants help with fighting against molecules that cause damage. For more in-depth information check out my other article.

Extra-virgin olive oil can help memory and learning abilities. It can help reduce amyloid-beta plaques and neurofibrillary tangles, which are signs and issues related with Alzheimer’s.

There are many foods that a person should avoid. For more information check out my other article.

Reference:

Alzheimer’s Association. (n.d.). Prevention and risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia. Retrieved from https://www.alz.org/research/science/alzheimers_prevention_and_risk.asp

Ede, G. (2016). Preventing Alzheimer’s disease is easier than you think. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/diagnosis-diet/201609/preventing-alzheimer-s-disease-is-easier-you-think

Gunnars, K. (2017). 10 proven health benefits of turmeric and curcumin. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/top-10-evidence-based-health-benefits-of-turmeric#modal-close

Hart, C. (2013). Memory boosting superfoods that fight Alzheimer’s. Retrieved from https://www.alzheimers.net/2013-10-15/superfoods-that-fight-alzheimers/  

Helpguide.org. (n.d.) Preventing Alzheimer’s disease. Retrieved from https://www.helpguide.org/articles/alzheimers-dementia-aging/preventing-alzheimers-disease.htm

James, E. (2016). 6 vitamins and minerals that boost brain power. Retrieved from http://www.medicaldaily.com/6-vitamins-and-minerals-boost-brain-power-396091

Katz, L. (2017.  Extra-virgin olive oil preserves memory, protects brain against Alzheimer’s. Retrieved from https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/06/170621103123.htm

Madison. (2018). Turmeric. Retrieved from http://makeminehealthy.com/turmeric/ 

Madison. (2018). What foods should I avoid, and why? Retrieved from http://makeminehealthy.com/what-foods-should-i-avoid-and-why/ 

Perlmutter, D. (n.d.). 5 keys to eating for better brain health. Retrieved from https://www.drperlmutter.com/5-keys-eating-better-brain-healthp/

Sagon, C. (n.d.). Caffeine for your health—Too good to be true? Retrieved from https://www.aarp.org/health/healthy-living/info-10-2013/coffee-for-health.html

SFGate. (n.d.). How eating vegetables affects the brain. Retrieved from http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/eating-vegetables-affects-brain-7503.html

Shmerling, R. H. (2017). Your brain on chocolate. Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/your-brain-on-chocolate-2017081612179

SienceDaily. (2015). Eating green leafy vegetables keeps mental abilities sharp. Retrieved from https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/03/150330112227.htm

University of Maryland Medical Center. (n.d.). Omega-3 fatty acids. Retrieved from http://www.umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/omega3-fatty-acids

University of Maryland Medical Center. (n.d.). Turmeric. Retrieved from http://www.umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/turmeric

Wenk, G. L. (2013). Why cinnamon is good for your aging brain. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/your-brain-food/201306/why-cinnamon-is-good-your-aging-brain

 

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