When it comes to what we eat, we tend to worry more about our waistlines than we do our brains. But a diet that contains a wide assortment of healthy fruits and vegetables doesn’t just benefit your body, research indicates it can protect your brain from cognitive decline as you age.

In order to defend against a variety of age-related conditions that can impair your memory and the general functioning of your brain, a good first step is to concentrate on incorporating nutrients into your diet from a variety of fruits and vegetables.

Regular consumption of fruit and vegetables has been considered to be associated with a reduced risk of dementia and age-associated cognitive decline. Increased intake of vegetables is associated with a lower risk of dementia and slower rates of cognitive decline in older age.

The onset of age-related neurodegenerative diseases in people with declining nervous systems are thought to exacerbate the cognitive behavioral deficits that normally occur with age. Scientists have been exploring ways that diet may help to stop this process and forestall the onset of these diseases.

Studies indicate that consumption of diets rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds, such as those found in fruits and vegetables, may substantially lower the risk of developing ARCD and neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

Dietary supplements with fruit or vegetable extracts decrease age-enhanced vulnerability to oxidative stress as well as inflammation. Providing delightful bursts of flavor along with potent antioxidant properties, berries rate high on the list of foods responsible for healthy aging.

Research suggests that the polyphenolic compounds found in fruits, such as blueberries, can alter stress signaling and neuronal communication, suggesting that interventions may exert protection against age-related deficits in cognitive and motor function. Research has suggested that just one cup of blueberries per day may slow or even reverse degenerative diseases of the brain, such as Alzheimer’s, dementia, and stroke. Studies show that cranberry juice may increase overall ability to remember. Raspberries, strawberries, blackberries. and boysenberries are also excellent sources of antioxidants.

During normal cell processes, compounds called free radicals are released, which can be harmful to your body tissues and lead to so-called oxidative damage or stress. Experts have linked oxidative stress to many illnesses, including cancer, heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease.

Since antioxidants can neutralize free radicals, quite a bit of research has focused on these nutrients and it’s believed they can help delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. However, they keep finding that this benefit only becomes apparent when the nutrients are consumed in food.

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Author's Bio: 

Dr. Randi Fredricks, Ph.D. is the author of Healing and Wholeness: Complementary and Alternative Therapies for Mental Health and Fasting: An Exceptional Human Experience. She has a Ph.D. in Psychology, a Doctorate in Naturopathy and accreditations as a Nutritionist, Herbalist, Hypnotherapist, and Registered Addiction Specialist. She provides counseling and psychotherapy in San Jose, California. To learn about her private practice, visit her website http://DrRandiFredricks.com.