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Your brain has to work hard 24 hours each day - even when sleeping it is busy taking care of your breathing, thoughts, movements and senses! This means that the brain requires a constant supply of fuel, which comes from food, and choosing high quality, healthy foods makes all the difference.
High quality foods contain a rich source of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants: all of which help nourish the brain and protect it from the damage caused by free radicals produced when the body uses oxygen. A diet that is made up of poor quality foods, such as those high in sugar, salt and trans-fats, and refined foods, can harm the brain.
Too much sugar, for example, can disrupt insulin regulation and encourage inflammation, which is thought to be at the root of many diseases, including those of the brain. Research has also suggested that a diet high in bad fats may speed up the formation of harmful amino acids in the brain, which are blamed for much of the damage that occurs in the brains of people with Alzheimer's disease.
An unhealthy diet can also increase the risk of poor heart health and blood vessel damage, including that of the brain, which can lead to stroke.
Mental decline is common as we age but it is not inevitable. The Alzheimer's society outlines the six pillars of a brain healthy, Alzheimer's prevention lifestyle as:
A healthy, balanced diet is very important to protect your brain. Enjoying a Mediterranean style diet, for example, which involves eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, beans, wholegrains, fish and olive oil, and limiting red meats and dairy foods, has been shown to dramatically reduce the risk of cognitive impairment.
Maintaining a nutritious diet is the most important thing to focus on when trying to protect the health of your brain, but some foods are even more protective than others…
Nothing beats a healthy, balanced diet to provide all the nutrients we need. But when this isn't possible, supplements can help. This article isn't intended to replace medical advice. Please consult your healthcare professional before trying supplements or herbal medicines.