As we get older, parts of our bodies start to deteriorate. Certain organs are more affected than others and it will also depend on a range of factors including your diet, how often you exercise and your genetics.
The brain is commonly affected by age, with memory problems a prevalent issue among the elderly. This is not necessarily dementia, as there is such a thing as age-related memory loss.
Luckily there are some steps we can make to help preserve our brain power the best we can. Diet is a key way to do so.
Research has shown that eating more of certain foods can in fact help protect the brain from deterioration. However, there are also foods that can have the opposite effect.
According to Dr Bowring, these three foods are:
- French fries.
While fish is often thought of as a brain-boosting food due to its omega-3 content, swordfish should actually be avoided.
This is due to the mercury levels found in the fish.
Dr Bowring said: “Number one is swordfish, and swordfish tends to be very high in mercury, that heavy metal which is going to destroy your brain cells.”
“Mercury is also known to be one of the most potent neurotoxins,” it said.
“This case study depicts a 91- year-old who presented with cognitive decline diagnosed as Alzheimer’s disease.
“This patient was found to have severely elevated mercury levels caused by consuming high mercury containing fish.”
The study concluded: “Thus, it is critical to address biological etiologies such as mercury toxicity in the elderly population diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, but end organ damage may not be reversible.”
A fat found within margarine is damaging to the brain.
Dr Bowring said: “Number two is margarine, usually made from trans fats, which is very inflammatory for your entire body, but especially for your brain and your nervous system as well.”
Multiple studies have made the link between trans fats and damage to the brain.
One, published in the Bratislava Medical Journal in 2016, said: “Trans fats (T-fats) have an adverse effect on the brain and nervous system.
“T-fat from the diet is incorporated into brain cell membranes and alter the ability of neurons to communicate. This can diminish mental performance. Relationship between T-fat intake and depression risk was observed.
“There is growing evidence for a possible role of T-fat in the development of Alzheimer´s disease and cognitive decline with age.”
Luckily, trans fats are not found in most margarines sold in the UK but it is still worth checking the label when you buy.
This applies to any foods that are friend in certain oils.
“So unfortunately I love fries as well, but it is usually fried in vegetable oil or canola oil,” Dr Bowring said.
“These PUFAS [polyunsaturated fatty acids] are very inflammatory as well, and studies have shown that by eating a lot of fried food it decreases your brain power.”
This was backed by Harvard nutritionist Uma Naidoo, who told CNBC: “While items that are battered, crusted or deep-fried may be at the top of the comfort foods list, they can be damaging to the brain.
“A study of over 18,000 people found that a diet high in fried foods was linked to lower scores of memory and cognition.”