What is Dementia?
Dementia is a general term (not a specific disease) that describes a group of symptoms which negatively impacts memory severe enough to interfere with daily life.
Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia with 60-80% of cases, while Vascular Dementia is the second most common dementia type. Nevertheless, there are many other conditions that cause symptoms of dementia. As opposed to Alzheimer’s, some forms of dementia are reversible.
Nutrition and Cognitive Health
In today’s health-conscious world, everyone knows and understands the importance of a healthy diet for physical wellbeing. We are encouraged to make healthier choices for a thinner waist, toned physique and healthy heart. But often, too little is said about the link between diet and Brain Health. The nutrition we feed our body is scientifically proven to affect all areas of cognitive function, so it’s vital that we understand how our dietary choices affect our brain. Here’s a helpful guide to how different foods can improve the most important daily functions of our brains:
Concentration and Learning: The best way to improve your concentration Is by upping your intake of omega-3’s. These are fats, but the healthy kind! Eating more omega-3’s has been shown to be key to boosting mental focus, helping you think. The best way to do this is by eating fish, which is a rich, natural source of omega-3. For your brain, fish really is the dish of the day! Antioxidants found in fruit, vegetables and berries are also thought to be great for keeping your brain active and alert.
Aging Many studies have shown links between several nutrients and a decreased risk of Alzheimer’s. These include omega-3’s, as mentioned, and also vitamins called folates. Folates are vitamins that are said to protect the brain against the formation of nerve fibres associated with the disease. A particularly good source of folates is avocado, which is also rich in monosaturated ‘good’ fats which help keep your blood-pressure low and reduce the risk of stroke. Anti-oxidants are also great for helping the body fight cognitive decline and have been found to slow the process. Blueberries are an especially good source of these!
De-stressing Life can often be hectic, and the daily decisions, calculations and learning we undertake places immense pressure on our brains. This can sometimes lead to a build-up of stress. Nutrition has the solution, however, and many common foods we eat contain powerful vitamins that help our brain to function well and not overload. Folates found in green vegetables such as spinach and avocado help the body produce mood-regulating neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine. These produce good feelings within your brain which fight against stress and depression. An unhealthy gut is one surprising cause of stress as it has been linked to anxiety and depression. Therefore, keeping your gut happy is super important. Probiotic yogurts are a great way to do this as they are full of healthy bacteria which are great for your gut.