This Is the Best Diet for Brain Health, According to Doctors

Diet likely plays a role in the development — and prevention — of many chronic mental and physical health conditions. What you eat really does begin to create an outline for what your future health might look like. To maintain a sharp mind, you might just have to give your eating habits a makeover.

Read on to learn more about the diet doctors are recommending more and more for maintaining a healthy mind.

What foods are bad for the brain?

Cupcakes

Cupcakes | karamba70/ iStock.com/Getty Images

Are there foods that “hurt” your brain? It’s not as easy as it might seem to connect diet with brain-related diseases that don’t have known causes. Scientists are learning more about the possible biological origins of dementia, but we still have a lot to learn.

So far, research suggests a possible link between diets high in added sugar and mental decline. Most of the foods that are potentially harmful to your brain might also have negative long-term effects on your overall health.

Foods to avoid if you want to keep your brain healthy include:

  • Doughnuts, store-bought muffins, and other pastries
  • White rice, white pasta, and white bread
  • Ready-to-eat meals
  • Chips, cookies, and other highly processed snack foods.

These foods generally aren’t recommended for those following heart-healthy and potentially brain-healthy diets. The best diet for your brain incorporates principles from two of the healthiest diets you can follow.

The best diet for brain function and health

The Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay (MIND) diet is a hybrid of the Mediterranean diet and the best diet for reducing blood pressure. It was developed in an attempt to lower the risk of the mental decline often associated with dementia.

There is no guaranteed strategy to prevent health conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease. And once this type of brain disorder develops, there is no known way to cure it. But researchers believe the foods recommended to followers of the MIND diet have a greater chance of long-term brain health as they age.

Best foods for your brain

Mediterranean style food

Mediterranean style food | OksanaKiian/Getty Images

The diet encourages the consumption of fruits (especially berries), vegetables, healthy fats (nuts, fish, and olive oil), and whole grains. Poultry and beans are also a less frequent but highly recommended food to eat along with all the others.

If you follow these general guidelines and limit your consumption of the foods that might do more harm for your brain than good, you’re not just feeding your mind. You’re also benefiting your heart, and possibly lowering your risk of other health conditions as well.

It’s important to remember that what you eat is an important part of maintaining a healthy brain — but it isn’t the only factor that might determine your dementia risk. Physical activity matters, too.

In many ways, exercise¬†changes your brain. It can help improve your mood and help you cope with stress. But it’s also good for your heart — and because your heart and brain health are so closely connected, what’s good for one is likely just as good for the other.