Is Canada’s new Food Guide good for brain health?

Eating healthy has been shown to help people retain their thinking and memory skills as they age and reduce their risk of developing dementia. Where January is Alzheimer’s Awareness month, it is a good opportunity to take stock of whether and how the recent changes to Canada’s Food Guide measure up and support brain health.

Dr. Carol Greenwood, co-author of the first Canadian Brain Health Food Guide for adults and the first science-based cookbook for the brain, Mindfull, says the new food guide aligns well with brain healthy eating and dementia risk reduction. “Canada’s Food Guide addresses healthy eating habits, which include more home-prepared foods, meal planning, and eating with others.”

Dr. Greenwood is currently leading a clinical trial that explores the effectiveness of a combined diet and exercise intervention for a nation-wide research initiative, the Canadian Consortium on Neurodegeneration in Aging (CCNA). “These activities help adults keep cognitively engaged and maintain their social networks. These habits not only support more healthful eating, but in and of themselves, support brain health,” Dr. Greenwood explains.

In fact, much of the evidence underpinning Canada’s Food Guide is based on reducing the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease and Type 2 Diabetes. The same dietary practices are associated with healthy brain aging.

Both the Brain Health Food Guide and the recently revised Canada’s Food guide recommend that Canadians transition towards a more plant-based diet by eating more fruits, vegetables, and plant proteins (such as beans, legumes, and nuts).

Researchers have found that there are a number of activities people can participate in to protect their brain health as they age.

Dr. Greenwood, along with other CCNA researchers, is exploring the combination of various lifestyle changes, including eating well, exercising, documentary discussion groups, and music and language lessons to help reduce the risk of developing dementia.

For updates on Dr. Greenwood and team’s findings, visit the CCNA’s website and/or signup for our newsletter by visiting our home page: http://ccna-ccnv.ca/