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Support brain health with the right foods and supplements

By Dr. Liz Applegate
SAB Member

Quick thinking and keen memory are both key attributes for job success as well as a streamlined life. Researchers now know that keeping your brain in tip-top shape takes eating the right foods. Your brain functions its best in your 20s and then begins a gradual decline in memory and cognitive skills such as problem solving with measurable losses by your 40s and 50s. There is greater decline of cognitive function in your 70s and 80s. And just as with heart health, decline of brain health and function can be accelerated by poor diet.

Over the past several years, research had revealed that just like heart health, brain aging and cognitive performance may be improved by eating certain foods as part of an eating plan called the MIND diet. Focusing on certain foods and supplements that provide key essential fats called omega-3s and dietary antioxidants such as vitamin E and polyphenols may protect brain cells (neurons) from the changes brought on by aging. Also, various vegetables and other foods emphasized in the MIND diet supply key B vitamins that may help slow the decline of the brain from aging. And just like eating for a healthy heart, avoiding or limiting certain foods like refined carbohydrates (sugary treats) may also assist with slowing the normal decline of brain function seen with aging.

MIND Diet
Eating patterns such as the Mediterranean Diet (MedDiet) or Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet are known to help lower risk of heart disease and high blood pressure. Perhaps not surprisingly, as a side benefit, research has shown that these diets helped improve cognitive function and slow onset of age-related cognitive decline in later years.1 As a result, researchers went to work designing a dietary pattern that could potentially stave off the decline in memory and other cognitive skills such as verbal recall and problem solving that are normally seen with aging.

The dietary pattern, dubbed the MIND diet (MedDiet-DASH Intervention to stop Neurodegenerative Delay) represents a hybrid of MedDiet and DASH that focuses on specific foods and nutrients. Research to date suggests that following the MIND diet provides tremendous promise for the delay of age-related decline in memory and other cognitive skills.

Seafood: Fatty fish such as salmon and sardines provide a rich source of essential omega-3 fats which are an integral part of neuron cell membranes. Intake of omega-3s (from food or supplement) helps sustain brains cells and cognitive skills. Eat omega-3 rich seafood at least once a week.

Green veggies: Spinach, chard and other greens supply a wealth of antioxidants and other compounds known to improve blood flow and protect brain cells (neurons) from normal age-related decline. Eat green veggies daily; at least one serving of dark leafy greens and one other vegetable.

Berries: Their rich red, blue, and purple colors come from potent antioxidants that also protect neurons from typical wear-and-tear seen with aging. Eat berries at least twice a week.

Nuts: Like berries, nuts supply antioxidants; and like seafood, nuts provide essential fats that become an integral component of neuron cell membranes. Eat a serving of nuts daily.

Foods to limit or avoid:
Protecting your brain also means limiting or avoiding certain foods which may pre-empt you from healthier food choices or provide negative synergy within the brain and promote cognitive decline.

Saturated fats: Butter, cheeses, margarines, and fatty meats contain saturated fats that promote oxidation and inflammation (a type of irritation on a cellular level.) Limit to <1 tablespoon a day for butter, coconut oil and margarine; and for hard cheese and fatty meats – limit to a serving once a week.

Refined carbohydrates: White flour breads, pastas, cakes, and other baked goods along with refined sugar (table sugar, brown sugar, and the like) also promote inflammation and are often devoid of key essential nutrients. This group includes beverages with added sugars such as sodas and fruit drinks. Limit to less than five servings total per week.

Dietary Supplements

MIND diet research has prompted a new emphasis on the role of specific nutrients taken as dietary supplements for the promotion of long-term cognitive health..

Omega-3s: Subjects with mild to no cognitive decline given omega-3 supplementation (both DHA and EPA) show a delay in further loss of cognitive function over a three-year period compared to placebo.2 While some supplementation studies show no benefit of extra omega-3s in preventing cognitive decline with age, most researchers point out that many people consume an inadequate amount of these critical fats across their lifespan and supplementation may be warranted.

Multivitamin: A 2023 study concluded that individuals supplemented with a basic multivitamin (13 vitamins and 15 minerals) for 3 years compared to a placebo group improved their memory performance by the equivalent of approximately 3 years. Researchers theorize the improved nutrient intake optimizes brain function in the face of age-related declines.3

Vitamin D, B12 and Folate: These essential micronutrients are often lacking in a person’s diet, particularly with aging, as dietary intake of foods becomes less diverse and fewer calories are consumed. Also with aging, less vitamin B12 may be absorbed, and less vitamin D is made by the body along with other age-related declines in micronutrient metabolism making supplementation with these nutrients beneficial for brain function.

Support your brain health with a MINDful diet and the right supplements!

Supplement with NeoLife

NeoLife, guided by the Scientific Advisory Board and a whole food-based philosophy, has provided high quality supplements to help bridge the nutrition gap for 65 years. Here are some NeoLife products that can help support the MIND diet.

ElevateA delicious energy drink formulated with natural caffeine from green tea for a physical energy boost, with clinically researched L-Theanine and electrolyte minerals to improve mental focus and support balanced mood. All while hydrating the body.*
TréTré is a potent and unique combination of the purest extracts of pomegranate, acai berry, and green tea, combined with NeoLife’s proprietary Inflox Berry Blend. It is enhanced with resveratrol and alpha-lipoic acid and is sweetened naturally with the nectar from the agave cactus. Not just juice, Tré harnesses the power of super fruits and green tea to promote a healthy heart, sharp mind, and optimal immunity.*
Omega-III Salmon Oil PlusSalmon Oil Plus is based on pure, natural salmon oil and NeoLife’s exclusive Ultra High Potency Omega-3 fatty acids (UHPO3). Each serving provides eight nutritionally important omega-3 fatty acids equivalent to approximately one serving of fresh salmon. Salmon Oil Plus is clinically studied and ultra-pure, with all sources are screened for over 200 potential contaminants.
Pro VitalityPro Vitality combines the power of Carotenoid Complex, Salmon Oil Plus, Tre-en-en, and Essential Vitamin and Mineral Complex into one convenient, daily packet. Formulated based on whole grains, fish, fruits and vegetables to help feed, protect, regulate, and nourish your cells for lifelong health and vitality.* Each packet also contains 21 essential vitamins and minerals.

References:

  1. Dominguez LJ, et al. Dietary Patterns and Cognitive Decline: key features for prevention. Curr Pharm Des. 2019; 25(22): 2428-42. doi: 10.2174/1381612825666190722110458.
  2. Welty FK. Omega-3 fatty acids and cognitive function. Curr Opin Lipidol. 2023 Feb; 34(1): 12-21. doi: 10.1097/MOL.0000000000000862.
  3. Yeung LK, et al. Multivitamin Supplementation Improves Memory in Older Adults: A Randomized Clinical Trial. Am J Clin Nutr. 2023 Jul; 118(1): 273-82. doi: 10.1016/j.ajcnut.2023.05.011.
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