Cognitive impairment and dementia are common problems in elderly people. Age-related memory loss is associated with brain shrinkage. Although brain shrinkage is a normal sign of aging, only a small number of elderly people suffer from cognitive impairment and memory loss, severe enough to impair normal day-to-day activities.
Studies have shown that age-related changes in the brain could be halted with proper diet and moderate physical activities. Certain nutrients and plant compounds are especially effective in preventing age related changes in the brain.
Diet for the aging brain
A diet rich in vegetables and fruits are beneficial for the aging brain. According to a University of Illinois study, luteolin, a plant compound, could halt age-related swelling in the brain. Inflammation of the brain tissues is one of the major causes of memory loss in older adults.
It is also associated with fatigue, depression, sleepiness and loss of appetite in elderly people. Excessive production of inflammatory molecules is associated with age-related cognitive impairment.
The findings of the University of Illinois research team, published in the Journal of Nutrition, have shown that the phytonutrient luteolin could reduce the levels of the inflammatory molecules in the brain. Peppers, carrot, olive oil and celery are the best sources of luteolin.
This anti-inflammatory plant compound is also found in certain herbs such as chamomile, peppermint and rosemary. Adequate consumption of luteolin rich food could arrest brain aging.
A Mediterranean-style diet might prevent age related memory decline. In a study, researchers of the Columbia University Medical Center in New York have found that people on Mediterranean style diet are less likely to experience age related brain damage. Seasonal fruits and vegetables, legumes, fish, cereals and monounsaturated fats are the main ingredients in a Mediterranean style diet.
Walking prevents dementia
To reduce the risk of dementia, elderly people should walk between six and nine miles each week. Researchers at the Pittsburg University have found that elderly people who walk six to nine miles a week have the lowest risk of brain shrinkage.
They have more brain tissues compared with people accustomed to sedentary lifestyle. Health experts believe that physical activities keep the heart in good health. A healthy heart keeps the brain in good health.