Quick…what comes to mind first when you think of brain health?
If you answered cognitive function, you’re right. But emotional health can be just as important for ultimate brain health—especially as we age.
In fact, a surprising new study shows that having a positive attitude can have positive effects on your memory as you get older.
And, because diet plays such an important role in emotional, mental, and physical brain health, I’m going to reveal additional research showing how some common fruits and vegetables can offer powerful protection against Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and dementia.
Let’s dive right in…
The power of positive thinking
Over a nine year period, researchers analyzed emotional and mental health data in nearly 1,000 middle-aged and older men and women.1
The study was divided into three assessments. For each assessment, participants described different positive emotions and feelings (like enthusiasm or cheerfulness) they had experienced during the prior 30 days. For the final two assessments, they also completed memory performance tests, including recalling words immediately and then 15 minutes later.
Taking into account mitigating factors like age, sex, education, depression, and introverted and extroverted personalities, the researchers analyzed the associations between positive feelings and memory.
They found that memory declined with age during the course of the study, but wasn’t uniform among the participants. Indeed, people with higher levels of positive feelings had less memory loss over the nine-year period.
This study adds to the growing evidence regarding the benefits of a positive mental attitude for stopping memory decline and supporting brain health. In other words, along with stress reduction, relaxation, and engaging in leisure and recreational activities, cultivating happiness may be part of a virtuous cycle for good brain health, cognitive function, and memory.
Of course, one way to achieve a positive mental attitude is through your diet. Plenty of research shows a balanced diet that’s rich in fruits and vegetables can help reduce depression, anxiety, and other key factors that influence mental health.
And two studies in particular show that certain fruits and vegetables can also have a big impact on cognitive function and prevention of dementia and AD…
The most colorful way to promote brain health
In the first study, researchers analyzed data on nearly 50,000 female nurses who had an average age of 48 years in the year 1984.2 Specifically, the researchers looked at the nurses’ intake of carotenoids, which are the pigments that give red, yellow, and orange fruits and vegetables their color.
As I’ve reported before, carotenoids act as powerful antioxidants and are also converted into vitamin A in your body. They’ve been shown in numerous studies to improve eye and heart health, and to help prevent lung and skin cancer. But, until recently, there has been less research on carotenoids’ effects on brain health—which is what makes this large and lengthy new study so impactful.
Between 1984 and 2006, researchers gave the study participants seven food frequency questionnaires. The participants also filled out questionnaires that assessed changes in memory and cognition. Each participant underwent telephone-based neuropsychological tests as well.
Results of these assessments were categorized as good cognitive function (41 percent of participants), moderate function (47 percent), or poor function (12 percent).
The researchers then compared the food questionnaires with the cognitive results. They found that the women who had a higher intake of carotenoids were 14 percent less likely to have moderate (rather than good) cognitive function. And they were 33 percent less likely to have poor cognitive function.
While that’s excellent news for carotenoid-rich fruits and vegetables like apricots, cantaloupe, carrots, corn, grapefruit, peaches, pumpkin, squash, tomatoes, watermelon, and yams, research shows that even produce that doesn’t fall into the yellow-orange-red category can also be beneficial for the brain.
The small but powerful purple fruit
As I’ve often reported, UCLA has been a mainstay of showing the natural approaches to reversing AD and dementia in clinical studies for the last several years. That includes research revealing that grapes can prevent the memory decline that leads to AD.
Researchers gathered 10 men and women, with an average age of 72 years. Each participant had mild declines in cognition.3
The participants were divided into two groups. One group consumed a powdered grape extract daily for six months, while the other group consumed a placebo powder.
Brain scans showed that the group taking the grape powder maintained healthy levels of metabolic activity in the regions where AD would typically appear. Meanwhile, the placebo group showed declines in brain activity in these regions.
This study looked at the whole fruit (as a powdered extract), instead of trying to pull out isolated “magic bullet” ingredients like resveratrol. Which is key. As I often explain, the magic lies within the whole fruit. Trying to isolate specific ingredients is typically a waste of time and money.
That’s why I encourage you to stick with organic, whole foods. Not to mention, the UCLA researchers think the rich polyphenol content of whole grapes has the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that help promote healthy blood flow to the brain and boost overall brain health.
More ways to get your grapes
One way to get even more brain benefits from grapes is by looking for a specialized blend of blueberry and grape extracts that works together, synergistically, to help enhance mental functioning and maintain memory, even as you age.
Another of my favorite ways to get the brain benefits of whole grapes is by drinking wine. As I’ve written before, moderate wine and alcohol consumption is associated with brain and heart-health benefits, especially among older people.
Wine enhances blood flow to the brain, carrying more oxygen, energy, and nutrients to highly metabolically active brain cells. Of course, wine is also excellent for relaxation and stress reduction—another common denominator behind brain and mental health.
Studies typically show that red wine has the most health benefits. But a special white wine made in Greece has plenty of healthy aspects as well. (See the sidebar on page 7.)
So, throughout the year, be sure to enjoy a healthy, balanced diet full of whole foods—including plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, and moderate wine. Your mood and memory will thank you!
For additional natural approaches to preventing and reversing AD and dementia, check out my Complete Alzheimer’s Fighting Protocol. To learn more about this innovative, online learning tool, click here or call 1-866-747-9421 and ask for order code EOV3X200.
SIDEBAR: The healthy Mediterranean drink
Greece is the ancient center of the Mediterranean—and is home to plenty of healthy foods. But Greeks also make one of the healthiest beverages, too…retsina, a white wine containing natural pine extract.
When making retsina, the grapes are processed in the usual manner. But then a small amount of resin (always taken from the Aleppo pine) is added at the start of fermentation and removed once it has released its flavors. This process goes back to the earliest days of ancient winemaking., where the Greeks used pine resin to line and seal terracotta amphoras (or wine barrels made of pine, more recently).
Pine resin has beneficial effects for joint inflammation. Old timers would even rub turpentine (distilled pine tar) on sore joints!
For decades, there’s been a lot of marketing hype about specialized pine-bark extract supplements. But instead of chasing after single-ingredient “magic bullets,” once again, you can get all of the benefits with the whole extract of pine, as used in retsina. Cheers!
1“Positive Affect Is Associated With Less Memory Decline: Evidence From a 9-Year Longitudinal Study.” Psychol Sci. 2020 Nov;31(11):1386-1395.
2”Long-Term Intake of Dietary Carotenoids Is Positively Associated with Late-Life Subjective Cognitive Function in a Prospective Study in US Women,” The Journal of Nutrition, Volume 150, Issue 7, July 2020, Pages 1871–1879.
3“Examining the impact of grape consumption on brain metabolism and cognitive function in patients with mild decline in cognition: A double-blinded placebo controlled pilot study.” Exp Gerontol. 2017 Jan;87(Pt A):121-128.