Power of brain foods

Did you know that most people live to a ripe old age without dementia?
 
It’s true:  Only 30 per cent of those aged over 85 are diagnosed with the condition. 
 
The good news is 70 per cent haven’t, proving there are ways to help reduce your risk.
 
So how can you reduce your risk?
 
People who are now in their later years have many of the answers already.
 
Society can learn a lot from their active, socially-engaged younger lives, where food was mostly fresh, seasonal and local and took some time and effort to grow, access and prepare. 
 
Whether in your 30s or closer to a century, here are a few simple guidelines to reduce dementia risk:
 
Eat Colours: Antioxidant substances in food protect the cells in your body by ‘mopping up’ and rendering harmless the potentially damaging waste products of everyday cell activity.
 
There are hundreds of different ones, each of which conveniently imparts a different colour to fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds.
 
Evidence shows you need a good mix for them to be effective so just having as many different colours of foods at every meal as you can is the way to go.
 
Have good oils: Oils from nuts, seeds, oily fish and olives contain fats, including Omega 3s, that support your brain and help reduce the chronic inflammation thought to contribute to cognitive decline/dementia.
 
You can help body and brain by adding a few teaspoons of virgin olive oil to most of your meals for example, but mixing up all sorts of good oils with the nuts and seeds they come from is perfect.
 
Support your body and help your brain:  Muscles do much more than move you around – they are also essential to your immune system, body organ maintenance, wound repair and importantly here, help provide a critical backup brain fuel supply.
 
To keep that essential muscle reserve, stay active and eat good protein and they will help support your brain.
 
A final word, your body and your brain are made of the food you eat: keep eating to support them.
 
- Ngaire Hobbins is a dietitian and author of three books on nutrition, ageing and brain health
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