The other week, I discussed how yoga can help with preventing or slowing the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Today, I’d like to talk about some specific foods and nutrients that can contribute to healthy brain function, which can not only further support the prevention and/or delay of Alzheimer’s disease, but also the overall healthy mental wellbeing necessary for avoiding or overcoming depression, anxiety and other emotional problems.
Before I share with you a few specific foods that can be extremely beneficial to brain health, I’d first like to review the importance of limiting your intake of processed foods, high glycemic carbohydrates and sugar, especially if you have a pre-existing condition related to inflammation, which directly impacts the health of the brain. Insulin resistance, for example, which is potentially caused by obesity and excess weight in the stomach area due to the overconsumption of saturated and trans fats as well as refined carbohydrates and processed foods, will not only lead to diabetes type II if unattended to, but can also prematurely cause brain damage and degeneration.
Additionally, if you are someone sensitive to gluten, which many of us are without knowing it, studies have identified a relationship between neurological disorders and gluten sensitivity. Recent studies have even shown that children with ADD or ADHD can significantly improve their condition by following a gluten free diet, as there appears to be an overlap between these learning disorders and celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.
Along these same lines, avoiding or limiting sugar intake does not mean replacing it with “non sugar” foods, snacks, soda and treats that contain artificial sweeteners, many of which are worse for you then sugar itself. The most common one, aspartame, is made up of food chemicals that can cause damage to the brain, resulting in emotional and neurological disorders and even brain tumors at low doses.
So what are some foods or supplements you can include in your diet to contribute to a healthy brain as well as support your best mental wellbeing? Here are a few helpful foods I came across in my research.
In general, as related to the discussion about insulin above, those with diabetes or an impaired ability to produce their own insulin have a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia due to brain cell loss or brain atrophy, which occurs when the brain is not able to convert glucose into energy properly. However, it has recently been discovered that a substance called ketone bodies can convert fat into energy and thus provide what the brain needs. Coconut Oil which is made up of 66% MCT (medium chain triglycerides), a primary source of ketone bodies, gets converted into energy and transferred to the brain directly in the bloodstream. Just 2 Tablespoons per day of coconut oil provides a therapeutic level of 20g/day of MCT.