Nearly half—about 40%—of older adults above the age of 65 experience age-associated memory impairment. However, many of these cases do not involve significant functional impairment and will not develop into dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Memory loss can be frustrating and worrisome.
Fortunately, as researchers accumulate more and more evidence regarding the risk factors and pathogenesis (the process by which a disease develops) of age-related memory decline, we are learning more about how to prevent and treat this common problem.
Your Diet Affects Your Brain Health
The way you eat has a profound impact on your brain health.
For example, a diet high in saturated and trans fats and low in antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids has been linked to an increased risk of cognitive decline and dementia. And healthful dietary programs such as the Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) have been found to slow cognitive decline and significantly reduce the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease.
Polyphenol-Rich Foods Promote Cognitive Well-Being
Polyphenols are micronutrients found in plant-based foods and beverages that have a wide range of health-promoting effects, including anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and neuroprotective effects.
Consuming a diet rich in polyphenols appears to be greatly beneficial for cognitive health—not just for preventing cognitive decline but also for improving cognitive function in healthy adults.
Polyphenol-rich foods and drinks include:
- Citrus fruits
- Herbs and spices
- Green Tea
- Nuts and seeds
- Green vegetables
- Fruit juices
In addition to their neuroprotective effects, polyphenols can also reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease, inflammation, and oxidative stress.
Blueberries Are a Superfood For Your Brain
Blueberries get their blue color from anthocyanins, which are powerful polyphenols. Anthocyanins have been demonstrated to be a helpful defense against Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of age-related cognitive decline and chronic illnesses.
In people who are already experiencing memory loss, blueberries appear to stimulate neuronal activation during working memory tasks.
Beyond just slowing decline, blueberries may even be able to reverse some age-related cognitive deficits and also preserve brain health in people who are currently healthy and fully functioning.
So add more blueberries to your daily and weekly routine, and enjoy the benefits of this delicious and healthy summer berry. Don’t wait until you start experiencing memory loss to start eating them—eating blueberries earlier in life may provide more significant cognitive benefits and protective effects.