The brain-food we eat has a huge impact on aging and the health of our brain. The brain, like the heart, never rests. It needs a constant supply of brain-food.
The brain burns about 25 percent of the
food energy that we consume. Most of the food energy consumed by the
brain is carbohydrates and because the brain is 60% fat it also needs a
significant amount of fat. But not just any old carbs or fat will do.
There is a lot of research showing that omega-3 fats benefit brain health as well as heart health. The brain is the most effected by a deficiency of omega-3 because it requires more omega-3 than any other organ.
One of the major benefits of omega-3 on brain health is that it can restore the brains ability to repair itself and generate new cells. An old brain is capable of generating new cells if it gets the right brain-food.
Omega-3 fatty acids also improve the speed of nerve transmissions throughout the brain. It helps us think faster. Avoid the factory made fats such as hydrogenated oils. They are harmful and will reduce the speed of nerve transmissions.
Deep cold water fish such as salmon are the best source of omega-3. Dietary supplements containing omega-3 are also a good option. Avoid large fish such as sword fish. They may contain toxic metals or other harmful contaminants because they live longer and are at the top of the food chain.
Brain function and carbohydrates.
The brain needs a lot of the right carbohydrates, which should always be eaten with protein, fiber or fat. Never eat or drink them alone. This is essential for proper brain function. The right carbs are called slow-release carbs, which are found in fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Avoid factory made, fast-release sugars (white or brown) or sugar products.
Consumption of white tea or green tea has been shown to improve cognitive ability. This is because white and green tea contains the flavonoid (epicatechin) that has been shown to prevent oxidation of LDL and HDL in the brain, which become harmful only when oxidized.
The mighty berry - a true brain-food.
It is believed by many neuroscientists that deep colored berries, like blueberries and blackberries, contain high levels of flavonoids. Flavonoids are very powerful anti-oxidants that keep the blood-brain barrier healthy and help prevent oxidation. They reduce inflammation, improve blood flow to the brain, chelate several dangerous medals, improve cell membrane quality, and strengthen blood vessels. Recent studies have shown that blueberries and spinach are excellent sources of flavonoids that protect the brain from metal toxicity.
Blue berries have also been shown to improve memory, as well as reverse some of the degenerative changes often seen with aging nerve tissue. Blue berries are indeed a super brain-food.
If you have a juicer, a good way to make a positive impact is juicing with berries, spinach and carrots. This is great for the brain but also your eyes.
SAMe & other brain friendly nutrients
Low levels of folic acid, a B vitamin, have been associated with depression. Several studies have shown that supplementation has improved the depression in those with low values. Vitamin B6, folic acid and vitamin B12 act as coenzymes in the synthesis of SAMe. Deficiencies in any one of these vitamins can disrupt the metabolic formation of SAMe. SAMe plays a vital role in brain function and is responsible for the synthesis of several neurotransmitters including serotonin.
We have all heard about the heart benefits of red wine. Red wine contains resveratrol, a powerful antioxidant. Recent studies have shown that resveratrol also has the ability to cross the blood-brain barrier and may prevent oxidative stress and inflammation that damage brain cells. Resveratrol supplementation may help to prevent Alzheimer's disease and stroke.
Some antioxidants are essential for maintaining a healthy brain as well as other vital organs including the thyroid gland. These nutrients include the trace elements selenium and vitamins A, B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B6, C and E. Essential fatty acids such as the Omega-3s and the Omega-6s are important to the health and function of the brain.
Be sure to consult with your physician before starting any nutritional supplementation program and select quality supplements. Nutritional supplements do not cure or prevent illness and disease. They only give the body the extra nutrition it needs to take care of itself! A healthy lifestyle starts with good nutrition.
Follow this link for more information on Trans-Resveratrol supplementation and to watch the CBS 60 Minutes video on the resveratrol discovery.
Green vegetables such as spinach, collard greens and asparagus contain many of the brain health benefits as blueberries. This is because these vegetables contain folic acid, which is a vital brain nutrient. Other good sources of folic acid are avocados, lentils, kidney beans and artichokes.
Nuts as a Snack
Nuts are a brain friendly snack especially walnuts because they are the richest in omega-3. Almonds and brazil nuts are also very good. Nuts are nutritious and filling and have a balance of fiber, healthy fats and protein.
Herbs and Spices, a great brain-food
Many herbs and spices are known to have medicinal properties that can improve cognitive performance, decrease inflammation of the brain and can help reduce anxiety. Use spices such as Cayenne pepper, clove, Basil, black pepper, sage, garlic, cumin, dill and ginger. There are others that are beneficial. But avoid potentially harmful additives such as monosodium glutamate (MSG) and carrageenan. If a food label simply lists “spices” as an ingredient, you should probably avoid it.
References and suggested reading:
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In the end it's not the years in your life that count but the life in your years. Abraham Lincoln