Eating Healthy in Midlife Helps Protect the Brain

Posted by Dave Tomar on June 06, 2014

Eating Healthy in Midlife Helps Protect the Brain

You feel better when you eat right. A healthy diet can help you to be more energetic, dynamic and focused.  What you put into your body on a daily basis can affect everything from how productive you are to what kind of mood you are in. This is because, researchers say, daily nutrition and brain function are directly connected. New research says that what you eat can impact your brain function far beyond just today. 

According to the Times Live, a new doctoral thesis published by the University of Eastern Finland reveals the dramatic difference that your diet can make in securing the healthy, long-term function of your brain. What you eat when you’re 50 may have a big impact on how you feel, think and function at age 70. The study reports that those who kept a healthy diet at age 50 were 90% less likely to suffer from dementia in their later years. 

The Findings

Researchers engaged 2000 participants between the ages of 39 and 64. Following up with 1449 available participants 14 years later, they found that those with a healthier diet demonstrated significantly sounder neurological health. According to the study’s findings, intake of saturated fat was found to be a major risk factor for decreased cognitive function and the heightened risk of dementia later in life. Researchers also accounted for the presence of the epsilon 4 variant of the apolipoprotein E (ApoE) gene—a known risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease—among participants. 

Even given this consideration, diet proved to be a major determinant for how the sample population fared with aging. Researchers noted that those with a genetic predisposition toward conditions such as Alzheimer’s should pay especially close attention to these findings. A healthier and more balanced diet could help to delay the onset and severity of one’s condition. 

What Not To Eat

This means that now is the time, whatever your age, to get your diet in check. This means reducing your intake of foods that can heighten your risk of dementia, not to mention your risk of heart attack, stroke and a whole gamut of obesity-related maladies. So what should you avoid? 

In short, saturated fats are to be avoided, such as those found in heavy desserts, candy, sugary drinks or process dairy products. The study also included eggs, salty fish and sausage on its list of ‘unhealthy foods.’ Those whose diets were dominated by these types of foods were far more likely to struggle to maintain their mental faculties as they advanced in age. 

What To Eat

By a marked contrast, those who maintained a diet heavy in fruits—such as prunes, raisins, red grapes, plums, blueberries and cherries—or vegetables—such as broccoli, spinach, kale, onion, red bell peppers, beets and eggplant—were significantly more likely to enjoy stable and healthy brain function later into life. 

Also recommended are nuts like almonds, walnuts and pecans and fish that are high in healthy omega-3 fatty acids such as trout, salmon, tuna, mackerel or halibut.  Researchers also note that a regular doze of vitamins, C, E, folate and B12 can help you to fight off the effects of neurological decline.  


TAGS: food and brain health