What’s good for the body appears to be good for the brain. And what is known about the health benefits of food may well help us stave off dementia. 

That’s the message from a pioneering Alzheimer’s disease researcher whose detailed article on what to eat for brain health appeared this week in The Conversation.

Current health scourges, such as type 2 diabetes, obesity and heart disease, all affect brain function, reported Ralph Martins, Ph.D., a professor at Macquarie University in Australia. Along with damaging inflammation that builds up with age, these problems can lead to a higher risk of Alzheimer’s and other brain conditions, including vascular dementia and Parkinson’s disease.

Research has identified certain foods that can help lower this risk, wrote Martins, who is working on a program of therapies and interventions for adults with pre-clinical Alzheimer’s. He recommended that people eat more foods that contain high levels of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory chemicals, such as:

  • Fish, for its omega 3 fatty acids and protein
  • Berries, including blueberries, strawberries, raspberries and blackberries
  • Red and purple sweet potatoes
  • Green vegetables and herbs
  • Beetroot
  • Pulses, including beans, lentils and peas

These foods (which contain damaged fats and proteins that can trigger inflammation) should be avoided: 

  • Sweets
  • Soft drinks
  • Refined carbohydrates
  • Processed meats
  • Deep fried foods
  • Other ‘junk’ foods 

Ralph Martins’ article on preventive eating can be found here.