What if I told you it is possible to embrace and slow the process of ageing with confidence by simply adjusting the foods you eat? For many people, the idea of getting older comes with feelings of fear or sadness at the unavoidable forgetfulness, brain fog, and potential dementia. After all, Age Concern UK tells us that mild cognitive impairment affects 5-20% of people over the age of 65 . But it doesn’t have to be this way! Numerous studies on ageing, loss of memory, and Alzheimer’s have proven that reducing inflammation , obesity, and insulin resistance , as well as avoiding other potential risk factors mentioned below  can dramatically reduce the amount of cognitive decline experienced in older individuals, all of which can be minimised simply through diet changes! Sounds good? We certainly think so! Read on for our top tips on which food weapons to add to your arsenal against cognitive decline that will help you continue living life to the full when the years start to add up.
What can I eat to reverse ageing through reducing inflammation?
Your brain is very susceptible to inflammation, which can alter blood flow to the brain and ultimately lead to tissue damage, cognitive decline and the creation of proteins linked to the development of Alzheimer’s [9, 10], so what can you do to reduce this? Perhaps it might surprise you, but look after your gut!  At RYH we love talking about the gut microbiome – as a currently rapidly expanding area of research, we understand that maintaining a healthy gut microbiome has huge repercussions for your general health. But how can it affect our brains?r These bacteria, for better or worse, directly impact the workings of the brain through the gut-brain axis – a highway for information sharing between the two organs. What you eat and the state of your gut microbiome therefore strongly affects the health of your brain and can prevent cognitive decline if managed properly .
So what food swaps reduce inflammation and promote a healthy gut microbiome? Increase the number of foods you eat that contain polyphenols (such as green tea) and ‘good’ (monounsaturated) fats such as omega-3 (found in fatty cold-water fish, avocados and tree nuts), and reduce ‘bad’ (saturated) fats and sugar. Omega-3 in particular has been shown to switch on genes that promote the synthesis of BDNF, which quite literally encourages the growth of new brain cells!  Such foods (like fatty cold-water fish) often also contain high amounts of vitamin D, which has been linked to double the risk of dementia in patients with vitamin D deficiencies. 
What about obesity?
Being obese or overweight is well-known to be a risk factor for Alzheimer’s and other age-related conditions.  Everyone knows how to lose weight – exercise more and eat fewer calories – but how can you practically apply that to your lifestyle without losing the healthy fats and other foods needed to reduce inflammation and maintain a balanced diet? Reset Your Health (RYH) can help! RYH is a 4-week online course of recipes and advice to help you apply good health principles to your diet and make lasting changes to your lifestyle for better gut and overall health. While not designed for weight loss, previous customers have found they finish the course at a healthier weight as a result of the course, and the meal recipes are of course packed full of anti-inflammatory, dementia-preventing fresh foods.
What is insulin resistance, and how can it help me prevent memory loss?
Obesity also increases your risk of insulin resistance, which in turn increases your risk of cognitive decline and dementia.
Insulin resistance occurs when your body cells fail to respond normally to insulin, leading to a build-up of glucose in the bloodstream. This, in turn, can lead to serious health conditions, such as type 2 diabetes. However, a study by the University of Tel Aviv revealed that people who are insulin resistant also have a higher risk of poor cognitive performance and cognitive decline, although the precise mechanisms underpinning this are unclear .
So how can we fight against insulin resistance? Dietary risk factors mainly involve a high carb and sugar diet, so consider reducing your carb/sugar intake and switch to healthier anti-inflammatory foods instead. To this end, diets such as the Mediterranean diet are encouraged to prevent insulin resistance.
Is the Mediterranean diet really worth the hype, and does it reverse ageing?
Anyone who has spent any time in the internet health space will have heard of the Mediterranean diet, but is it actually worth the hype or is it just another media craze? The Mediterranean diet has a strong emphasis on fruits and vegetables, healthy fats such as those from nuts and olive oil, and whole grains. As you can see above, these food groups match exactly with those recommended to reduce inflammation, obesity, insulin resistance, and encourage a healthy microbiome! In fact, there have been many (13!) studies directly linking the Mediterranean diet with a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s and general cognitive decline, as well as many other conditions such as cardiovascular disease, mental health conditions, asthma, and several cancers [7, 8]. We’ve even written an entire article about the benefits of the Mediterranean diet and how you can adopt it.
Can a diet really reverse ageing though? While we might not be able to physically turn back the clock with what we eat, improving the fuel that sustains us can prevent the development of age-related conditions, potentially reverse disease progression , and even slow ageing at a molecular level [reference]!
So, how can you prevent loss of memory and reverse ageing? Take advice from the Mediterranean diet and boost your meal plans with more fruits and vegetables, monounsaturated fats, anti-inflammatory foods, and whole grains, reduce high-risk foods such as alcohol, carbs, sugar, and saturated fats,  and consider our programme Reset Your Health (link). All it takes to significantly reduce these risks is a healthy, balanced diet, so what are you waiting for?
Hungry for more? Check out our article on diets for dementia prevention.
References Alzheimer’s Society. What is mild cognitive impairment (MCI)? Factsheet 470LP. 2015;(August).
2017;71(6):576-583. doi:10.1136/jech-2016-207809. Harvard Medical School. Inflammation and Chronic Disease. 2018.  Wekerle H. Brain inflammatory cascade controlled by gut-derived molecules. Nature. 2018;557(7707):642-643. doi:10.1038/d41586-018-05113-0.  Dr Rapheal Kellman. Whole Brain Diet.; 2017.  Council G. Brain Food: GCBH Recommendations on Nourishing Your Brain Health.  Alzheimer’s Research UK. Alzheimer’s disease: risk factors.