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Are You Taking Care of Your Brain Health?

March is Brain Health Awareness Month.

Over the next few weeks, we will share nutrition tips, exercise and activity tips, ways to aid in a healthier gut microbiome, and how these health and fitness topics affect your brain. Let’s begin by discussing important nutrients to eat for a healthy and strong brain.

What is cognitive decline and what causes it?

Cognitive decline is the experience of worsening or more frequent memory loss or confusion. Cognitive decline is one of the earliest, noticeable, symptoms of Alzheimer’s and Dementia. Although it is a symptom, not everyone who experiences cognitive decline will develop Alzheimer’s or Dementia.

There are many factors to the development and worsening of cognitive decline including:

• Diabetes

• High blood pressure.

• Stroke.

• Smoking.

• High cholesterol.

• Poor nutrition.

• Genes and family history.

How does nutrition relate to brain health?

A healthy diet affects more than your body composition, it also aids in the function and maintenance of vital organs such as your brain. A poor diet can lead to health issues such as Diabetes, Heart Disease, Stroke, High Blood Pressure, and High Cholesterol which all put you at risk of cognitive decline. A poor diet can also lead to a lack of vital nutrients and antioxidants, leaving your brain malnourished and vulnerable to oxidative damage, which can speed up cognitive decline.

Oxidative damage occurs from having an abundance of free radicals – a by-product of cell function – and not enough antioxidants in the brain, leading to cell damage.

Foods containing important nutrients for a healthy brain.

• Leafy greens such as kale, spinach, and broccoli contain nutrients such as Vitamin K, Lutein, Folate, and Beta Carotene. These nutrients can help slow cognitive decline.

• Fatty fish such as tuna and salmon are rich in Omega 3 fats, that can help to lower levels of beta-amyloid. Beta-amyloid is the protein that forms and damages parts of the brain in those with Alzheimer’s disease.

• Berries contain flavonoids, the natural pigment giving berries their bright colour. Flavonoids can help improve memory.

• Walnuts are rich in healthy fats and antioxidants and have been shown to help reduce inflammation and oxidative damage within the body.

8 Foods high in antioxidants.

• Red beans

• Berries

• Pinto beans

• Artichokes

• Apples

• Pecans

• Russet potatoes

Foods to limit or avoid.

• Microwave meals.

• Fried or salty foods, such as fries, pretzels, and fast food.

• Refined grains such as white breads, sugary cereals, and baked goods.

• High fat dairy items such as butter, whipped cream, cream cheese and ice cream.

• Red and processed meat such as sausages, hot dogs, deli meats.

Tips to make eating well easier.

• Pack your diet full of colourful fruits and vegetables.

• Bake, grill, air fry, or steam foods instead of frying them in oil.

• Add beans or legumes to salads, soups, and stir-fries to increase protein and fibre intake.

• Staying hydrated not only helps to flush out toxins, but also helps to avoid overeating. Thirst cues are often confused with hunger.

• Prepare food in advance to bring to work, this can help keep you satiated and avoid picking up less nutritious snacks you may not need, such as a daily donut.

• Follow the 80/20 rule, 80% of your daily food intake should come from whole, nutrient dense foods while 20% comes from your less nutritious options such as chocolate.

As you can see, there is no one cause for cognitive decline, and no singular food to eat that can prevent it. Eating a healthy and nutritious diet including the foods we’ve listed, and limiting the less nutritious options can help to keep your brain healthy. Look out for our blog next week to read about keeping the gut microbiome healthy and how it relates to brain health!

If you have questions or want more tips on eating well for your brain, contact one of our Health & Fitness professionals today at

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