Brain health, what does that look like in the modern-day world of a senior?
We hear from many sources that there are specific keys to improving and maintaining brain health, and these are:
- Mental exercise
- Physical Exercise
For some, all these things are easy to do, and for others, one or all of them may be difficult.
Let us discuss diet, more prevalent in January because of the holiday season weight gain, not to mention the 2020 weight gain from the COVID -19 lockdown and excess snacking. Certain foods enhance brain function, increase mental performance, and decrease the risk of memory loss for older adults. It is easy to say I will eat healthy until you hit the store and see the reality of eating healthy in monetary value. Other factors to consider are loss of taste or motivation.
Humans are born with more than 10,000 taste buds, with most of them on the surface of the tongue. As we age, we have fewer and fewer taste buds and become less sensitive as the nerves that send taste signals to our brain wear out over time. Older adults tend to retain the ability to distinguish sweet tastes well after other flavors have disappeared, leading some to overindulge in sugary foods and snacks. Decreasing sugary foods in our diet as we age is crucial in preventing weight gain and maintaining a healthy body and mind. Sugar cravings can be satisfied when eating healthy foods that include but are not limited to dark chocolate, sweet potatoes, a variety of berries, dates, and prunes. Visit our Facebook each month for healthy recipes and satisfy your sweet tooth (https://www.facebook.com/CountryMeadowsVillage).
According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, various healthy foods from all food groups can help you get the vitamins and nutrients your body needs as you age. Many people believe that taking vitamins helps improve health; we can get all the vitamins we need from the right food intake. Imagine the money saved from not buying expensive vitamins and applying it to purchasing the right kinds of food. To my mind eating healthy is more pleasurable than swallowing pills.
Berries are an excellent source of vitamin C, fiber, potassium, and magnesium and contain potent antioxidants.
Foods high in vitamin C assist in the absorption of iron. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant and helps support your immune function. Other foods high in vitamin C include red and yellow peppers and tomatoes. Tomatoes: Tomatoes are rich in lycopene and may help protect cells against free-radical damage associated with the development of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease.
Dark Leafy greens have many health benefits, one of which is providing iron to your body. One cup of cooked spinach has 36 percent of your daily requirement. Other good choices are Swiss chard, kale, and broccoli. Not only does broccoli improve brain health, but it also contains calcium and vitamin K, both of which promote bone health.
Fish: Omega-3 fatty acids found in fatty fish increase brain health and may lower blood pressure, reduce blood clotting, and more, according to the Mayo Clinic. Many authorities recommend two servings of fish per week for older adults.
Motivation, especially when cooking for one, can be a barrier to eating healthy, so much easier to buy pre-packaged foods or grab a bag of chips. Sardines are considered one of the best fish for brain health and the least expensive. Below is a recipe for a quick and easy sardine snack.
Sardines on Toast
- slice granary bread
- one garlic clove halved
- vine-ripened tomato, thinly sliced
- ½ x can Portuguese sardine in spring water, drained
- a handful of organic watercress or wild rocket
- splash of balsamic vinegar
Lightly toast the bread. Rub the garlic’s cut side over the toast’s surface, and arrange the tomato slices on top. Add seasoning if you want to.
Break up the sardines with a fork and arrange them on top—pile on the watercress and drizzle with balsamic vinegar.
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