The #1 Best Diet for Your Brain After 65, Says New Study — Eat This Not That

Protecting your brain as you age means making sure your gut is healthy, and plant foods rich in a substance called polyphenols as well as beneficial metabolites can be a boon to both, according to a new study published in the journal. Molecular Nutrition and Food Research.

The researchers studied nearly 850 people over the age of 65 who lived in two different regions of France. In addition to tracking their diet over 12 years, the participants regularly underwent five different types of neuropsychological tests to detect signs of cognitive decline. (Related: The 100 most unhealthy foods on the planet)

Participants who ate more foods full of polyphenols and had certain metabolites showed a significantly lower risk of developing cognitive impairment and dementia as they got older. These include:

  • An apple
  • blueberry
  • cacao
  • coffee
  • Green tea
  • mushroom
  • orange
  • pomegranate
  • Red wine

Study leader Cristina Andrés-Lacueva, Ph.D. from the Department of Nutrition and Food Science at the University of Barcelona, ​​Spain.

Not only do these foods seem protective on their own, she adds, but they may also work in concert together to promote brain health. This is especially true if they push for less healthy food options like artificial sweeteners, which were shown to have a negative effect on cognitive impairment in the study.

RELATED: Peanut Butter Has That Big Impact on Your Brain Health, New Study Says

According to Andres Lacueva, one of the most important aspects of this type of diet is the way it improves the beneficial bacteria in your gut. This link between brain function and gut health is so strong that the gut is sometimes called the ‘second brain’. Chemical signals are constantly sent between the brain and the digestive system, and these signals affect other aspects of the body as well, such as the immune response and hormone regulation.

says Lisa Mosconi, Ph.D., and author of Brain Food: The Surprising Science of Eating for Cognitive Power.

“We often see that if one is eliminated, the other is affected, sometimes very dramatically,” she says. “Of all the organs in the body, the brain is the organ most easily damaged by poor nutrition.”

The plant foods highlighted in the latest study can keep this connection strong, and Mosconi says adding fiber and probiotics can also support brain function and gut health.Especially as you get older.

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