In November 2016, the BBC announced that dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, had overtaken heart disease as the leading cause of death in England and Wales. Worryingly, the largest group of dementia deaths was among women, who are almost twice as likely to die from dementia as men.
“Dementia should be seen as a modifiable health condition and, if it occurs, should be followed as a medical condition, not a normal part of aging,” says Dr. Patricia Harris, a geriatrician and associate professor at Georgetown University Medical Center.
Understanding the causes of dementia and knowing how to prevent them should be an important factor in expanding your healthy lifespan. The fact is dementia is not an inevitable part of aging, and you can have control over whether or not you develop it.
It’s no surprise to hear that a healthy lifestyle can help lower your risk of developing dementia, and it’s recommended that you:
- Exercise regularly
- Limit alcohol intake
- Don’t smoke
- Maintain normal blood pressure and cholesterol
- Eat a healthy diet
Today, I want to focus on the last of those recommendations and examine five youth preserving superfoods that can help reduce the risk of dementia…before I forget. 🙂
Green Leafy Vegetables
We’ve always been told to eat more vegetables, and delicious leafy greens, including kale, turnip greens, spinach, and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and Brussels sprouts are fantastic when it comes to improving cognition and fighting dementia in older age.
Green leafy vegetables are high in folate and B9, and studies have shown a lack of these could lead to depression. Eating plenty of broccoli will reduce anxiety and help decrease the chances of premature aging. Pass the broccoli!
Berries and Dark-skinned Fruits
There are many reasons why including berries and dark-skinned fruits such as plums, blueberries and blackberries, in your diet is a wonderful idea. I eat them practically every day investing in them as I do multivitamins. Professor Douglas Kell’s research at the University of Manchester has found that eating dark-skinned fruits high in iron chelators soaks up harmful iron compounds, reducing the production of dangerous toxins in the body.
The benefits of eating berries are specifically outlined in the MIND diet. “Blueberries are one of the more potent foods in terms of protecting the brain,” says Dr. Martha Clare Morris, a nutritional epidemiologist. She also notes that strawberries have been the focus of past studies into the effect of food on cognitive function.
Berries are also rich in youth preservation aids like vitamin C and E, antioxidants and anti-aging compounds like anthocyanin, protecting the brain from free radical damage.
Turmeric and Other Spices
Studies by Professor Murali Doraiswamy, director of the Mental Fitness Laboratory at the Department of Psychiatry, Duke University Medical Center, Carolina, has shown that eating turmeric once or twice a week could help to prevent Alzheimer’s disease.
The build-up of plaque in the brain can affect the electrical signals between brain cells, leading to dementia symptoms. Spices like turmeric, cinnamon and cumin can help reduce inflammation and break up brain plaque.
While the headlines might scream that eating curry (containing turmeric and other spices) can protect you from dementia, Professor Doraiswamy is right to point out that regular healthy lifestyle activities, such as exercise and a good diet are the critical components to preventing obesity and heart disease, and powering youth preservation.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Cold-pressed Coconut Oil
I’ve previously examined the health benefits of various types of cooking oils, and it has been proven that consuming certain types of oil can help fight dementia symptoms. Extra virgin olive oil is rich in healthy fats, as well as youth preserving antioxidants such as vitamin E.
Another key health benefit in olive oil is a substance called oleocanthal, an anti-inflammatory compound that boosts proteins and enzymes, encouraging the breakdown of the damaging plaques associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
Cold-pressed virgin coconut oil is also an incredibly useful tool for youth preservation, and in reducing the risk of dementia. Amongst its many benefits, cholesterol and trans-fats free coconut oil has been shown to improve the body’s use of insulin, as well as increase the level of good cholesterol – high-density lipoprotein.
Nuts and Almonds
Nuts are an excellent daily snack to help boost brain and heart health. Walnuts, hazelnuts, cashews and almonds contain a number of neuroprotective compounds such as vitamin E and B6, folate, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and magnesium.
As well as lowering bad cholesterol and reducing the risk of heart disease, nuts are packed full of antioxidants, helping to control free radical damage and fight the signs of aging. Several studies have linked nut consumption to life extension.
Almonds are another great brain protecting food, in addition to being very fiber rich which benefits gut health. Almond nutrition is somewhat unique in that they contain the antioxidant riboflavin and L-carnitine, two nutrients that positively affect brain activity and prevent decline. Almonds are an amazing food source for anybody looking to increase their healthy lifespan, providing benefits to your skin, brain, heart, body and blood sugar. Just be careful to not go crazy on the nuts. Overeating nuts can lead to other problems. It’s recommended to eat no more than a third of a cup, or one small handful per day.