Neurologist’s Daily Lunch to Prevent Alzheimer’s

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Food can keep our hearts healthy, blood sugar stable, and improve our physical performance. Importantly, the brain is also affected by what we eat, playing a key role in cognitive health.

“Nutrition is critical for overall health, including brain health and reducing Alzheimer’s risk,” says Dr. Smita Patel, DO, of Endeavor Health’s Center for Brain Health. “Understanding these connections helps individuals make better food choices and potentially lower their risk of chronic conditions like Alzheimer’s.”

Dr. Patel’s Favorite Brain-Boosting Lunch

Dr. Patel’s go-to lunch for reducing Alzheimer’s risk is a chicken pomegranate quinoa salad. The recipe includes 3/4 cup of quinoa, a Fuji apple, pomegranate seeds, 1/3 cup of almonds, mint, parsley, and boneless, skinless chicken breast. It’s versatile and can be made vegetarian by substituting chicken with mung beans. “It’s easy to prepare, parts can be prepped ahead, and you can add dressing when ready to eat,” says Dr. Patel.

This balanced meal of protein, veggies, and healthy fats provides sustained energy and stabilizes blood sugar levels, benefiting brain health.

Nutritional Insights

Research supports the benefits of such a diet. A 2022 study found animal protein can prevent cognitive decline in adults with plant-dominant diets. Similarly, a large Harvard study noted that beans and legumes, like lima beans and peas, protect against cognitive decline.

Vegetables are crucial for brain health. A 2022 study indicated that older adults in Japan who ate more vegetables were less likely to develop dementia. Healthy fats, like those in almonds, also benefit the brain. A 2023 meta-analysis found that foods rich in omega-3s could reduce dementia risk by about 20%.

Additional Brain-Healthy Tips

1. Avoid Ultra-Processed and High-Sugar Foods Dr. Patel warns that diets high in ultra-processed foods (UPFs) increase the risk of chronic conditions, including dementia. A study of nearly 11,000 people linked UPFs with higher rates of cognitive decline. Foods considered UPFs include ice cream, processed meats, sugar-sweetened beverages, and ready-to-eat frozen meals.

2. Follow the Mediterranean Diet This diet, known for its benefits since the 1970s, has been top-rated for heart health, metabolic syndrome, and type 2 diabetes. Studies of autopsied brains show those following the Mediterranean or DASH diets had fewer signs of Alzheimer’s.

3. Take Your Lunch Break Dr. Patel emphasizes the importance of taking a lunch break to detach from stress, recharge, and eat mindfully. A 2014 study found that shorter lunch breaks led to less healthy food choices. Additionally, a 2021 study suggested that even short breaks can help people learn new skills.

By making informed food choices and taking regular breaks, you can support your brain health and reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s.

Re-reported from the article originally published in Parade.

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