A healthy diet can help prevent brain shrinkage. In a recent study wherein scientists investigated the relationship between diet quality and brain volume, the results showed that those who maintain a healthy diet had larger volumes of gray and white matter. Moreover, the volume of the hippocampus and overall brain structure were also larger in those who had high diet quality scores.
The authors indicated that what you eat influences the effects of neurodegeneration through the brain’s structure. When you eat healthy foods, your brain cells are protected, thus you get to maintain your brain volume and ward off brain shrinkage. Check out what foods you should eat to prevent your brain from shrinking.
You can get all sorts of nutritious vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants from vegetables. And for better brain health and larger brain volume, you’ll need to increase your intake of green leafy vegetables like watercress, spinach, and kale.
These vegetables contain high concentrations of antioxidants that help prevent inflammation and oxidative stress damage to the brain. When you eat foods that contain high concentrations of omega-3 fatty acids like DHA and EPA, you help protect your brain from inflammation.
Vegetables and other dietary sources of omega-3 fatty acids basically help prevent the death of your brain cells. This, then, helps you maintain your brain volume.
Omega-3 fatty acids also help improve the efficiency of neurotransmitters in the brain. When your brain cells are smoothly communicating with each other, you won’t have any problems with memory or cognitive functioning.
However, when your brain cells are not able to communicate or signal each other because your brain lacks the right balance of neurotransmitters, it can lead to memory and executive function impairment.
You can also get a lot of omega-3 fatty acids from cold-water fishes like salmon, mackerel, and sardines. If you like snacking on walnuts, they’re also great sources of omega-3, just like chia seeds and flaxseeds. Eggs, soybeans, and enriched dairy products are also some of the most common dietary sources of omega-3 fatty acids.
Antioxidants help ward off age-related brain degeneration by preventing free radicals from damaging the brain cells. There are many types of antioxidants but when it comes to brain health, flavonoids top the list.
Flavonoids help protect brain cells from neurotoxins. Aside from suppressing neuroinflammation, flavonoids also help improve learning and memory as well as overall cognitive function. These potent antioxidants also help increase blood flow to the brain in a way that helps promote the growth of new hippocampal nerve cells and the formation of new blood vessels in the brain.
When it comes to flavonoid content, most fruits and vegetables have high concentrations of flavonoids. As long as you’re regularly eating these healthy foods, you can be sure that you’ll get a lot of flavonoids from your diet.
If you’re planning to really increase your flavonoid intake, try eating more colorful fruits. Berries such as blueberries, apples, citrus fruits, and tropical fruits like mangoes and papayas are also excellent sources of flavonoids.
When it comes to veggies, cruciferous vegetables and other leafy greens are some of the best sources of flavonoids. Broccoli, lettuce, kale, and other dark green veggies contain a lot of flavonoids and other antioxidants.
If you’re not sure which fruit or veggie you should include in your diet, just go for the more colorful ones as these are the ones that contain high concentrations of antioxidants like flavonoids. Aside from fruits and veggies, tea, cocoa, and wine are also good sources of flavonoids.
Vitamin E also works as an antioxidant that helps protect the brain from degenerating. In fact, vitamin E can help prevent the progression of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s. Tocotrienol, one type of vitamin E, also helps prevent the formation of white matter lesions in the brain.
When you have these lesions, you’re more likely to have a stroke or develop Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s disease. Thus, tocotrienol helps lower your risks of these diseases by protecting the brain from lesion formation.
Neurodegenerative diseases often cause brain atrophy which leads to the death of brain cells and the shrinking of the brain. By protecting against neurodegenerative diseases, vitamin E helps prevent brain shrinkage.
Cognitive performance is usually better in people who have high levels of plasma vitamin E. This is because vitamin E is not just an antioxidant, it provides other benefits to the brain on top of its antioxidant functions.
For instance, alpha-tocopherol, another type of vitamin E, is associated with better neuron signaling. Vitamin E also plays a crucial role in membrane fluidity in the brain as well as in the regulation of genes. As part of its gene regulation function, vitamin E hinders the expression of genes that are associated with the progression of Alzheimer’s.
If you’re planning to increase your vitamin E intake, one delicious way to do it is to snack on nuts and seeds such as almonds, peanuts, sunflower seeds, and pecans. For people who are not fond of nuts, leafy greens are great natural sources of vitamin E. Vegetables that contain high concentrations of vitamin E include dandelion greens, turnip greens, and spinach.
If you prefer eating seafood over vegetables, you can include Atlantic salmon in your diet and that will help take care of your vitamin E and omega-3 requirements. Abalone, cod, octopus, and fish roe are also excellent sources of vitamin E.
If you’d rather get your vitamin E from fruits, then avocado is your best bet. Other fruits that also have high concentrations of vitamin E include mangoes, kiwifruit, blackberries, olives, apricots, and raspberries.
There are various foods and drinks that can cause your brain cells to die and your brain to shrink. Alcohol consumption, for instance, is associated with brain shrinkage.
Alcoholism can cause almost all parts of the brain to shrink although the areas most affected are the cerebral cortex and hypothalamus. Aside from alcohol, red meat and sweetened beverages are also linked to smaller brain volume.