Eating Green Leafy Foods Might Help You Find Your Keys | Avalon Memory Care

Eating Green Leafy Foods Might Help You Find Your Keys

Eating Green Leafy Foods Might Help You Find Your Keys

The older we get the more, it seems, we notice slight changes in our memory and our ability to think fast. Our food consumption is an important part of our brain-health and something we can have control over. Food isn’t the end all for diseases like Alzheimer’s but it can certainly contribute to typical brain-health. In this article, we will learn about foods that help our brains and hurt them, and though science doesn’t have all the answers about the connection research indicates certain foods can in fact improve our brain-health.

Diet and Memory Loss

The Mediterranean Diet and the Dash Diet, replace foods known to be detrimental to brain health with foods known to improve memory or thought to delay the onset or reduce the likelihood of dementia. They also appear to help alleviate a number of other health issues from high blood pressure to diabetes. When these two diets are combined it is considered a MIND diet.

While there is a clear association between improving your diet and reduced memory loss and other symptoms of dementia, adopting dietary changes is currently seen as the fourth or fifth most effective prevention strategy. Of course, the best prevention strategy is to adopt as many aspects of all of the prevention strategies as possible, including adopting good sleep habits (sleep hygiene), increasing physical activity (even just a daily 30 minute walk appears to help), reducing cholesterol and blood pressure levels, participating in cognitive exercise and brain training, and finally, adopting a brain-healthy diet.

What happens in your brain . . .

No one knows precisely how the connection between diet and memory loss works, but researchers and other health professionals see clear associations between habitually eating certain unhealthy foods and memory loss, and likewise see clear associations between eating certain healthy foods and memory improvements and reduction in dementia symptoms (and many other health benefits). Scientists have a broadly accepted theory about what happens and are beginning to understand the role diet plays in dementia.

How memory loss and dementia begin

Normal, healthy human brains experience the world through billions of electrical impulses that pass between brain cells constantly. These impulses travel through the brain causing neurons to release chemicals across the synapses (tiny gaps) between neurons. Microglia cells remove (actually digest) toxic cells like beta amyloid and tau cells, keeping neural pathways clear.

In brains experiencing disease-related memory loss, toxic cells start accumulating in the synapses and elsewhere around the brain, shorting out neural connections and damaging neural cells themselves. Beta amyloid and tau cells may build up into “amyloid plaques” and “tau tangles” in synapses and neurons over a period of 15 to 20 years, during which most people actually show no signs of the developing dementia.

But when amyloid plaques reach a “tipping point,” the microglia cells that normally clear away amyloid beta cells, instead go into a kind of overdrive, causing inflammation in the brain and destroying synapses and the neurons themselves. When this happens, abnormal tau proteins also start accumulating into tangles inside neurons, which further blocks communication between cells.

How does diet play a role?

It’s all about the fat . . .

Researchers are finding that eating too many cholesterol causing foods and unhealthy fats might increase production of the beta-amyloid plaques, which damage brain cells as described above. Cholesterol plaques that build up in blood vessels can also cause memory loss and cognitive decline by causing strokes, which also damages brain cells and reduces oxygen flow to the brain.

What a brain-healthy diet looks like.

First, we know what a brain-health diet is NOT: The common American diet, including processed cheese and meats, foods with added sugar (some obvious; some surprising), refined carbs (white bread, rice, and flour, pastries, sodas, many snacks, some pasta, sweets, and breakfast cereals), and unhealthy fats (trans and saturated fats). Most Americans eat a generally unhealthy diet that is also known to contribute to the growth of amyloid plaques associated with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

This list of foods has been used in one or more significant studies and prove to help reduce memory loss and delay the onset of dementia. There is no guarantee they will help you find your keys but the benefits to brain-health are evident.

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