June is Brain Health Month, a time to focus on the brain-body connection and make sure we are doing what we can to feel our best and keep our “brain health” at its best.
My dad is 91 and experiencing declines in memory that can happen in aging, so the issue is personal for me. That’s why this month, I’m sharing three lifestyle habits I try to follow every day to support the health of my brain … and perhaps yours as well. Read on to learn why I follow the MIND Diet, engage in regular physical activity, and take a daily CocoaVia™ Memory+ supplement.
Follow the MIND Diet:
MIND is an acronym for Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay. The MIND Diet is a blend of two popular diets: the Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension). Together, they deliver a powerful one-two punch to keep your brain healthy and improve cognitive health. Research shows that moderate to strict adherence to the MIND Diet is linked to better brain health.
The MIND Diet includes foods rich in brain-supporting nutrients, and while it’s not a magic bullet, the MIND Diet can play a positive role in supporting brain health.
Top-10 MIND Food Groups:
1. Leafy Greens: Aim for one serving of kale, spinach, Swiss chard, or lettuce each day
2. Other Vegetables: Round out veggie consumption with at least one serving of colorful bell peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, tomatoes, or winter squash each day
3. Berries: Aim for two or more servings of blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries a week
4. Nuts: Grab a handful of walnuts, pistachios, almonds, or pecans at least five times a week, and nix heavily processed snacks like chips and pastries
5. Olive oil: When cooking, use extra virgin olive oil most of the time
6. Whole grains: Add three, half-cup servings of whole grains to your daily diet, including brown or black rice, quinoa, oats, and farro
7. Fish: Eat your favorite fish—salmon, tuna, cod, shrimp—once a week … or more
8. Beans: Add at least three, half-cup servings of black beans, chickpeas, lentils, edamame, or other bean to your weekly diet.
9. Poultry: Include up to four servings of chicken and turkey in your diet each week, and remember to stick to healthy preparation methods like baking and stir frying
10. Wine: Light to moderate consumption may be beneficial to support brain health, so the occasional glass of wine can be part of the MIND Diet. That said, there’s no reason to start drinking wine or alcohol if you don’t currently consume it
The MIND Diet also includes foods to limit: Butter and margarine; cheese; red meat; fried food; pastries and sweets.
Take a daily CocoaVia™ Memory+ supplement:
It’s hard to eat a perfect diet all the time, so as a registered dietitian, I will often recommend taking a dietary supplement to fill gaps and incorporate unique bioactives that are difficult to get from your everyday diet, including CocoaVia™ Memory+ with 750mg of cocoa flavanols per serving. All CocoaViaTM products are made with Cocoapro™ cocoa extract – the most concentrated and most proven cocoa flavanol extract in the market today.
Cocoa flavanols are bioactives found in cocoa, that are clinically proven to promote brain health for the long term by supporting cognitive function and better memory. (CocoaVia™ supplements also support cardiovascular health.) Bioactives are not essential nutrients but are components in foods that may be important to promoting our overall health. Because flavanol levels vary dramatically in foods, taking a daily cocoa flavanol supplement in capsule form, like CocoaViaTM, is an easy and convenient way to incorporate cocoa flavanols into your diet.
CocoaViaTM Memory+ supports cognitive function and improves three types of memory including long-term memory, word recall, and spatial memory. The 750 mg of cocoa flavanols in CocoaViaTM Memory+ have been clinically proven to improve memory and brain function in as little as 8 weeks.
I’m all about living my best life and feeling vital. CocoaViaTM supplements offer that benefit. The cocoa flavanols in CocoaVia™ cocoa extract supplements promote healthy blood flow to support the delivery of oxygen and nutrients throughout the body, helping you perform at your best. Research over the past 20 years has shown that cocoa flavanols can help maintain overall health, and can specifically improve cognitive performance in healthy adults. This body of research includes numerous randomized, double-blind, controlled trials by prestigious universities, published in leading journals, and are among the most cited studies in the flavanol field.
Engage in Regular (Aerobic) Physical Activity:
A growing body of peer-reviewed research finds that exercise—mainly aerobic— is also important to your cognitive health.
What kind of exercise is best?
According to human and animal studies, long-term, regular exercise that increases heart rate and the need for oxygen provides the most benefit. Experts also point to a minimum of 20 to 30 minutes per exercise session.
While certain medical conditions may limit the ability to exercise, there are many options for aerobic exercise to choose from including my personal favorites of brisk walking, biking and lifting light hand weights. Other ideas for those who may want to add more movement to their daily routines include jogging, playing basketball, raking leaves or doing yard work, or using gym equipment like the rowing machine, exercise bike, and weights.
Now that it’s Brain Health Month, consider doable and enjoyable steps to support the health of your brain including a shift to eating more like the MIND Diet, taking a daily Memory+ supplement from CocoaViaTM and regular aerobic exercise.