Wednesday, November 18, 2015

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: Kale, Kids, and Alzheimer's

“Follow the Mediterranean or the MIND diets and your mind will be sharper in six months – and less susceptible to Alzheimer’s disease decades later.”         

                                                                                  --Majid Fotuhi, M.D., medical director of NeuroGrow Brain Fitness Center and affiliate staff at Johns Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland

Tuscan (or flat-leaf) kale

Every time I read an article about brain health and Alzheimer’s, I think about the emerging knowledge that Alzheimer’s is a disease which begins 30 or 40 years before the first symptoms appear.  An article in the October 2015 issue of AARP's Bulletin, “Eat Your Way to Brain Health,” is about the MIND* diet which emphasizes fish, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, beans, and a daily glass of wine.  Eating foods that contain the good, healthy fat (unsaturated fat) like olive oil, nuts, and fish (but not farm-raised fish) enhance memory and information processing. 

As parents, we should take note of all this emerging knowledge.  Scientists are documenting the foods that can keep our brains active as they attempt to urgently learn how to blunt the life-robbing effects of Alzheimer’s as the numbers of Americans affected continue to increase each year.  It is clear that Alzheimer’s does not develop in one month or one year.  It develops over several decades of eating foods that clog up the brain instead of eating brain-boosting foods that maintain healthy blood flow and prevent inflammation.  Choosing more of the good foods and deciding to eat less of the bad foods is what the Growing Healthy Kids workshops teach children and their parents.  This is why teaching kids to be Nutrition Scientists is so much fun!  

Here are some foods that are very good for your brain (now and in 30 years): 
  • Olive oil
  • Blueberries
  • Turmeric (curcumin, its active ingredient, is one of the most powerful anti-inflammatory substances in the world and a key ingredient in curry)
  • Nuts, especially walnuts
  • Beets, tomatoes, and avocados
  • Leafy greens like kale, spinach, broccoli, collards
  • Dark chocolate (I eat a little piece every day!)

Please pass the kale!

In gratitude,
Nancy Heinrich

Founder, Growing Healthy Kids, Inc. 

*MIND stands for Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay