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Food for Thought: Improving Brain Health with Delicious Food

Since nutrition plays such an essential role in our overall well-being, it should come as no surprise that researchers believe food choices probably have an impact on brain health. The smarter your diet, the more likely it is that you’ll preserve your memory and cognition as you grow older.

One diet to consider is that of people living in the Blue Zones. These are areas around the globe where people enjoy the longest, healthiest lives. Blue Zones have fewer incidences of Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia than other areas of the world. A classic example is Ikaria, Greece, where residents are 75% less likely to develop dementia than their peers in the United States.

While there is currently no treatment or cure for Alzheimer’s disease, researchers think a healthy diet might be key to preventing the disease. What is it about the food choices of people in Blue Zones that may be protecting brain health? Let’s take a look at what residents of these regions eat.

Eat Like a Resident of a Blue Zone

  • Less meat: One of the main characteristics of how people in Blue Zones eat is the lack of meat in their daily diet. Most consume only 2 ounces of meat no more than 5 times a month. This includes beef, pork, and chicken. Blue Zone residents do eat fish, but only in moderation. Sardines, cod, and anchovies are the most common.
  • Few eggs: In Western countries, many who consider themselves healthy eaters use eggs as a source of protein. Blue Zone guidelines, however, recommend eating very few eggs. If you do, they should be eggs that contain omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 eggs are produced when the hens’ diets include flaxseed.
  • Little dairy: Reducing dairy and opting for foods made from goat’s milk or sheep’s milk is another choice those in the Blue Zones make. Both contain less sugar and fat.
  • Primarily whole foods: Instead of eating processed foods or altering the state of natural foods, people in the Blue Zones eat mostly whole foods in their daily diet. Fruits and vegetables are an essential part of this lifestyle.
  • Water to hydrate: Another essential for aging well is to stay hydrated. Blue Zone residents primarily drink water. Some foods, such as cucumbers, berries, leafy greens, and melon, also increase hydration.
  • Whole grains: Breads made from whole grains are best, and those containing bleached white flour should be avoided. The body converts white flour into sugar, which contributes to spikes in insulin levels.
  • Minimal sugar: Americans love sugar. Some of it is from hidden sources many aren’t aware of, such as ketchup, yogurt, barbecue sauce, and dried fruits. Sugar causes inflammation in the body, which is linked to health issues ranging from Alzheimer’s to heart disease.
  • Healthy nuts: Nuts are a staple in Blue Zones. Consumed in moderation, they offer brain-boosting benefits. Walnuts, almonds, and Brazil nuts are a few of the best.
  • Beans: Considered a superfood in the Blue Zones, beans are high in fiber and protein. Because they are also filling, beans can help you avoid overeating.

While diet is only one of the factors that promote healthy aging in Blue Zone residents, it does play a key role. Adopting a Blue Zone diet may help you protect your body and your brain.

Savor Dining at Clearwater Living

At Clearwater Living, we recognize the vital role nutrition plays in successful aging. Through our Savor Dining program, residents have access to fresh, healthy meals. Our on-site chefs create menus that are both nutritious and delicious.

Please contact the Clearwater Living community nearest you for more information. One of our team members will be happy to help!

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