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Blueberries, olive oil, kefir, walnuts, leafy greens, oatmeal, bananas, and algal oil. These are some of the foods that could play a role in helping to keep the brain healthy throughout life, according to scientific experts interviewed by CBS News.

The brain is the “motherboard of reality,” said Dr. Joel Salinas, a neurologist at Massachusetts General Hospital. “The better we can take care of this organ that is so deeply tied to who we are as a person, to this universe that we exist in, the more fulfilling of a life we’ll be able to live.”

Brain health” encompasses a person’s ability to remember things as well as avoidance of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, said Francine Grodstein, Sc.D., a professorof medicine at Harvard Medical School. Dementia is a broad term referring to a decline in mental ability, including problems with memory, communication, focus, and reasoning. Although dementia is more common in older adults, it is not part of the normal aging process. Alzheimer’s disease, which affects about 5.5 million Americans, is the most common type of dementia, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.

But doctors and scientists still have much to learn about how our eating habits may affect brain health.

“It’s important to emphasize that research and understanding of the possible impact of diet on brain health is a relatively new field,” Grodstein said.

Yet even as that work continues, a person is never too young to start caring for their brain health, said Salinas. “Much like we brush our teeth every day… and see a dentist regularly, we should place that same kind of value on our brains,” he said.

Oatmeal, pulpy orange juice, bran cereal, bananas, fruit smoothies from unpeeled fruits, and other fiber-containing foods are all prebiotics.


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