A Journey Towards Healthy Aging With a Sound Mind
We know that food plays a crucial role in healthy aging. As we age, one of the main concerns is protecting and maintaining the health of our brain. People fear losing their memory and, as a result, their independence. However, research shows that prioritizing the quality of nutritional intake might help to slow the effects of mental degradation.
With increased awareness of the impact of aging on our overall well-being, consumers are taking a proactive approach to healthy aging to remain active and independent for as long as possible. According to Mintel, 70 percent of US consumers agree that enjoying retirement motivates them to improve and maintain their health and well-being.
Asia is also entering a phase of longer life expectancy with improved living standards and access to health care and nutrition. The pace of aging is also more rapid in developing markets in the Asian and Pacific region. According to a report published by the United Nations ESCAP (Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific), France and Sweden took 115 years and 85 years to move from an aging to an aged society. In contrast, China is expected to transition in 25 years, Singapore and Thailand in 22 years, and Vietnam in 19 years.
Food and nutrition are the most accessible and relatable forms of preventive care, paving the way for manufacturers and brands to bring the most relevant products to the market.
In this article, we explore the supportive role diet plays in maintaining brain health.
Diet and Brain Health
As we age, our brains shrink, and cognitive functions such as memory and processing speed deteriorate. Aging also makes us prone to neurological disorders that affect our quality of life and independence.
To maintain a good quality of life and independence, it is essential to have not just a healthy body but a healthy mind as well. Brain health affects everything from memory and other cognitive abilities to your ability to perform daily activities and process emotions.
Adjusting your diet to incorporate foods that supply your body with key vitamins, essential fats, and high-quality protein is crucial to keeping your brain healthy:
- Vitamin B6 plays a crucial role in cognitive development. It is found naturally in many foods, including fish, organ meats like beef liver, and starchy vegetables like potatoes and non-citrus fruits.
- Vitamin K, found mainly in green leafy vegetables, is an anti-inflammatory and helps brain cells proliferate and survive. Eating leafy green vegetables daily also helps maintain brain health as you age.
- Fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, and sardine, contain high omega-3 fatty acids, which fight brain inflammation.
- Plant-based oils, such as flaxseed, canola, and soybean, contain high omega-3 fatty acids essential for cognitive wellness.
- Dark chocolate contains antioxidants and flavonols, a plant compound that protects against cell damage and helps fight inflammation. Consuming dark chocolate is linked to better brain function and improved memory.
- Dairy fats that contain phospholipids can also have positive effects on brain function, in particular for people with mild memory impairment, as phospholipids act as building blocks for cell membranes.
Increased awareness of mental health issues has also led to growth in the health supplement market. According to Allied Market Research, a leading provider of syndicated and customized research reports, the global brain health supplements market size was valued at USD 7.65 billion in 2020 and is projected to reach USD 19.73 billion by 2030, with a CAGR of 9.9 percent from 2021 to 2030.
A host of opportunities exist in the nutrition and food sector to support customers in their journey towards healthy aging. A healthy diet can be supplemented with specific nutrients for targeted effects. Contact us to learn more about DKSH's extensive product portfolio providing the best solutions for a healthy mind.
Anne Tan is Senior Manager of Business Development for Food and Beverage Ingredients Asia Pacific, Performance Materials, based in Kuala Lumpur.
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