An unhealthy lifestyle and unhealthy eating habits take a huge toll on our health. But, we hardly realise that stress, depression and other lifestyle diseases have an effect on our brain and mental capacity. In a report published by the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), Contributing Editor Linda Milo lists eight nutrients that may protect your brain from the effects of ageing:

1. Cocoa flavanols: Flavanols are antioxidants that help neutralise free radicals in the body, thereby by maintaining the cell integrity. They are also known to improve the function of a specific part of the brain called the dentate gyrus, which is associated with age-related memory.

Foods to eat: Chocolate

2. Omega-3 fatty acids: Apart from keeping your heart healthy, omega-3-fatty acids also protect your brain from the effects of ageing. They improve object recognition memory, spatial and localizatory memory that helps recall facts and knowledge, and adverse response retention.

Foods to eat: Salmon, flaxseed oil, and chia seeds.

3. Phosphatidylserine and Phosphatidic acid: Both these chemicals are a part of the cell membrane and are an integral part of cell functions, especially in the brain. They improve memory, mood and cognitive function in the elderly and are also used in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.

Foods to eat: Cabbage and soy

4. Citicoline: It is a psychostimulant and is naturally available in the body. It is used for the treatment of age-related diseases such as Alzheimer’s diseases, dementia, and also Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and stroke. Citicoline supplements help maintain normal cognitive function with ageing and protect the brain from free radical damage.

5. Choline: It is a precursor for the production of neurotransmitter acetylcholine that is involved in various functions of the brain, including memory. Choline supports the brain during aging and helps prevent changes in brain chemistry that result in cognitive decline and failure.

Foods to eat: Eggs

6. Magnesium: It is a mineral that is commonly associated with bone health. But, it is also used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Those who suffer from severe concussions are prescribed magnesium supplements.

Foods to eat: Avocado, soybeans, bananas and dark chocolate.

Other foods that help with the wellbeing of the brain are blueberries and walnuts. Blueberries are rich in antioxidants that stimulate the blood and oxygen flow to the brain. They also offer neurocognitive benefits such as increased neural signaling in the brain centers. Walnuts are rich in neuroprotective compounds like vitamin E, folate, omega-3-fatty acids and antioxidants. They help in reducing the risk, delaying the onset or slowing the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.

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