You are what you eat, the saying goes — and that holds true for the neck up. Just as diet plays an important role in the health of your heart, your skin and other organs in the body, what you put in your mouth can affect the health of your brain.
For one, healthy foods help to keep blood vessels healthy. These tiny tubes transport nutrients throughout the body, including to the brain. “Our brain is fed by blood vessels, and the delivery of nutrients and oxygen to our brain cells depends on the integrity of [these blood vessels],” says Irwin Rosenberg, M.D., professor emeritus of nutrition and medicine at Tufts University’s USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging (HNRCA) and the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy.
Accumulating research also points to a powerful connection between the brain and the digestive system (commonly called the gut), which is happiest when fed nutrient-dense foods.
It’s also possible that certain diets trigger inflammation, cell and tissue damage, and other biological processes linked to worsening brain health, the National Institute on Aging says.
The good news: Eating to support your brain is “actually really simple,” says Shelly Wegman, a clinical dietitian with UNC REX Nutrition Services in Raleigh, North Carolina. “It’s choosing minimally processed or unprocessed foods,” Wegman adds, and minimizing the consumption of salty, sugary, ultra-processed options, which have been associated with higher dementia risks and depression.
And while there is no one silver-bullet food that gives the brain a boost, there are a few food groups that stand out. To learn about the best superfoods for the brain, from AARP, CLICK HERE.