En español l Antioxidants! Omega-3s! Anti-inflammatory diets! Can something you eat really help you remember — again — where you put your cellphone or reading glasses? If you add blueberries to your morning oatmeal or sip a glass of red wine at dinner, will your brain cells stay healthier longer?
Much of what we hear about the interplay between diet and brain health is based on preliminary research and then flooded in hype. As headlines have linked one food or another to Alzheimer's disease and other illnesses, we have rushed to remove them from our diet. The problem is, as soon as one headline urges us to eat this, not that, it seems there's another saying just the opposite.
Why all the confusion?
Proving conclusively which foods actually boost brain health is difficult and expensive, requiring large scale, long-term clinical trials. "When you're eating blueberries, you're not eating just one nutrient," explains Gene L. Bowman, a brain nutrition researcher at Oregon Health & Science University. "You're eating a complex mixture of hundreds of them. Is it the antioxidants that improved cognition or the vitamins? Most likely, it's the unique combination of all of them."
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Still, it's become increasingly clear that how you eat may counteract the effects of an aging brain. "The best recipe is a diet that includes brain-building nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants and certain vitamins, and steers clear of foods that promote high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity and diabetes," says Majid Fotuhi, M.D., chairman of Maryland's Neurology Institute for Brain Health and Fitness and author of the upcoming Boost Your Brain: The New Art and Science Behind Enhanced Brain Performance.
It's never too late to start reaping the benefits of a brain-healthy diet. But don't try to detox all at once. Start slowly, and you'll soon realize that making more healthy choices isn't so hard after all. Here's what you need to know.
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