Historically, men’s magazines haven’t given cognitive health the attention it deserves. “OVERCOMING DEMENTIA IN 60 YEARS” doesn’t quite sound the same as “BUILD ABS IN SIX WEEKS”.
But the rate of Alzheimer’s increase quickly in America, and the disease could affect 13 million people by 2050. Instead of just focusing on this summer’s ideal beach body, it’s important to consider the influence that decisions made today will have on your body and your brain in several decades. Luckily, when it comes to nutrition, there’s a real opportunity to have your cake and eat it, too.
Only instead of cake, you should eat foods like salmon, nuts, legumes, whole grains, soy, blueberries, strawberries, green tea, and leafy greens.
What’s the connection between heart-healthy foods and long-term cognitive ability? People with heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes (that’s most of the country; heart disease killed more people last year than anything else) are also most likely to suffer from age-related health problems. So even if you are spared the consequences of clogged arteries, chances are you will live your final days with compromised neural pathways characterized by disorientation, irritability, poor motor function, and extreme memory loss. That’s a pretty steep price to pay for skipping almonds.
You could opt for a diet like the MIND diet, which combines two well-respected diets — the Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet, which was specifically designed to reduce high blood pressure — and promote healthy aging and cognitive function. It has a compelling pitch (“a diet for neurodegenerative retardation”) and offers a pretty reasonable weekly slate:
- Every day: whole grains, vegetables
- Most days: nuts, leafy greens
- Every other day: beans
- 2 times a week: poultry, berries
- Once a week: fish
If the thought of completely overhauling your intake in deference to a new diet seems overwhelming, which it almost always does and often leads to self-destructive binge eating, try incorporating these foods into your diet little by little and notice how they could begin to replace some of the covered options, which we know for a fact are no longer helping you live.
It’s somewhat frustrating that the popular media chooses to refer to some of these ingredients as “superfoods,” as if a blueberry is some kind of cosmic gobstopper for better health. In reality, these are only real foods, the kind that are still eaten daily in the blue zones of the planet – the places with the highest concentration of centenarians.
In the end, eating naturally is an extremely effective route. That means a healthier heart, a better (and literally bigger) brain, and yes, a more balanced body in the months ahead.
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