Healthy Aging for your Brain

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Canadians are living longer and are living better. Healthy lifestyle habits can help promote brain health and prevent chronic diseases. Learn more about nutrition’s important role in keeping your brain healthy.

Healthy lifestyle habits can help support brain health

Making healthy lifestyle choices is important for your well-being as you get older.  Eating well, being physically active, managing your stress and keeping your brain active are great ways to keep your brain healthy.  A healthy brain also improves your ability to enjoy your life while helping reduce your risk of chronic diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer’s. 

Vitamins and minerals from food sources keep your brain healthy

Choose nutrient-dense foods – As you get older, you may find your appetite isn’t as big as it used to be. It is important to make sure that the foods you eat are high in nutrients.  These are known as nutrient-dense foods, because they provide a lot of vitamins and minerals with few calories.  Vegetables, fruit, and whole grains are examples of nutrient-dense foods.   These keep your brain and body healthy and help reduce the risk of chronic diseases.

Choose foods over supplements – Some research suggests vitamin and mineral supplements may help maintain and improve brain function as you get older.  However, not all supplements will be helpful.  Speak with your doctor or health care professional before taking supplements.

Nutrition is important for your brain health

Enjoy a variety of foods to keep your brain and body healthy. Canada’s Food Guidehas specific recommendations for people 51 years of age or older.  These recommendations maintain and support brain health.  For older adults, this means:

  • 7 servings of vegetables and fruit – Make a rainbow of colours on your plate, emphasizing green like avocado and broccoli, orange and yellow like squash, cantaloupe and peppers, and red like red grapes and tomatoes every day. Don’t forget your blues and purples like blueberries and cabbage or whites and browns like bananas and cauliflower to make this colourful picture complete.
  • 6-7 servings of grains – These are an essential food group for the brain! Grains are rich in carbohydrates.  Our brains use carbohydrates for energy. Choose whole grain varieties more often like whole wheat whole grain bread, barley, oats or quinoa. Grains are excellent sources of essential vitamins and nutrients.
  • 3 servings of milk and alternatives – Choose lower-fat varieties by comparing the nutrition information between products.  There are low fat milks (skim, 1% and 2%), soy beverage, yogurts and cheeses available.
  • 2-3 servings of meat and alternatives – Include beans, lentils and tofu more often.  Select lean fish like salmon, and meats like chicken and turkey without the skin.

To learn more about general nutrition and aging, visit the following resources:

Nutri-eSCREEN™ Older adults eating well.  In British Columbia, click here to take the survey.

Staying healthy through menopause and beyond

Just for men – staying healthy over 50

Keep your brain and body active

Keeping active is a step forward in maintaining your health and helping you feel your best. Make physical activity part of your daily routine by choosing activities that you enjoy.  Being active also helps reduce stress, improves your mood, and helps you feel healthier and stronger as you get older. Keeping your brain active with crossword puzzles, reading and social events is also important to maintain overall brain health.

To learn more about being physically and mentally active at any age, visit the following resources:

Active Aging for Canadians

Physical activity tips for older adults

Brain Booster, Alzheimer Society

Bottom Line

A nutritious diet is important at every life stage, and especially as you get older.  Making healthy food choices is not only good for your overall health, but also important to support brain health. 

Last Update – February 14, 2019

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