Diet Can Improve Your Mind as You Age

Some scientists believe that a diet high in antioxidants can help protect your brain from injury or stroke, or help an individual have good memory and cognition into old age. Antioxidants are nutrients that protect against free radicals. Free radicals are like chemical “bullets” that damage tissue. Antioxidants are like chemical “bullet-proof vests”. They include vitamins A, C, E carotene and bioflavonoids—these are found in abundance in fresh produce.  These nutrients have been shown to help reduce oxidation, which can cause damage to cells and accelerate aging. This includes the cognitive decline that typically develops with age

Antioxidants in the diet are important because so many environmental toxins like pesticides, herbicides and food additives have found their way into the food supply. Eating a diet rich in antioxidants may help you keep your memory and cognitive skills into old age. A recent animal study conducted at the University of Toronto found that old dogs that were on a diet high in antioxidants performed better on a variety of cognitive tests than dogs that were not on the diet. Actually, dogs that were fed antioxidant-fortified foods performed as well as young dogs. Dogs, like humans, lose some ability to learn new information, and experience problems in both short-term and long-term memory as they age. The antioxidant supplementation helped the old dogs, but not the young ones. It was most pronounced in animals that already had some cognitive impairment.

Other research, at the UniversidadNacionalAutónoma de Mexico (UNAM) and the University of Houston-Clear Lake (UHCL) found that an antioxidant rich diet improved memory in aged rats. The antioxidant mixture, from blueberries also helped with age-related protein plaques, slowing the damage. This translates as a possible benefit to Alzheimer’s patients.

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