As the executive director of the Global Council on Brain Health (GCBH), I am always on the lookout for brain-healthy foods. I scan grocery aisles for chocolate bars with more than 70 percent cocoa, feel that I’m stimulating my brain when I down my morning coffee and even feel virtuous when drinking a glass or two of red wine. Turns out all my assumptions have been wrong.
In April 2015, the Institute of Medicine released a groundbreaking report on what older Americans can do to keep their brains healthy. The report said that obesity was likely to increase the risk of cognitive decline. The same month, a major study in the British medical journal Lancet found that being underweight in middle age and old age is linked to an increased risk for dementia. Confused? You’re not alone. This is just one example of scientific reports that generate conflicting news headlines. Do brain games work to strengthen memory? Does lifting weights and practicing yoga make a difference? Can certain foods decrease risk of dementia?
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