Don't Forget Brain Health
With more than a 100 billion cells called neurons, our brain is the most complex and remarkable part of our body. No computer can possibly compare. Think about it - our brain has the ability to regulate hundreds of different bodily functions at the same time, every second of the day. It also governs our thoughts, moods, emotions, movements, speech, and more.
That’s one heck of a machine. Needless to say, we want to keep it in peak working order.
Until fairly recently, it was believed that once memory started slipping a bit, things could only get worse.
Is memory loss and decreased brain power inevitable as we age? Many people in their 40s, 50s, and beyond are told that it is, and there is nothing that can be done about it. Well, it’s not true.
Every day the brain has an opportunity to grow new cells and form new neural connections. The brain’s ability to change and grow, to get better, throughout one’s lifetime is called neuroplasticity. Simply put, the brain is constantly changing.
All of our daily habits influence, for better or worse, how well our brain works, which in turn, effects our memory.
It’s common to experience a little memory loss as we age, but much like muscles, the more exercise we give our brain, the stronger it will be. Perhaps an extra boost of brain power would allow us to perform better at work, which would result in the raise we’ve been hoping for. Or maybe, increased mental stamina would allow us to finish the side projects we’ve been putting off—rather than feeling like our brain has turned into a pile of mush by the end of the day.
Unfortunately, instead of having mental focus, concentration, and alertness many of us feel clouded by a thick layer of brain fog that turns us into mildly functioning zombies, preventing us from reaching our full potential. While there are many factors that can contribute to cognitive decline - such as chronic stress, our lifestyle plays an essential role in how well our brain functions.
Good thing that we don't need any crazy products or regimens to stay sharp. There are simple lifestyle tips can keep the brain young for years.
Eating the right foods — and avoiding the wrong ones — should be a cornerstone of any long-term strategy for keeping our brain fit for life.
The Mediterranean diet is widely considered the healthiest diet on the planet. People who eat this way rank high in health and longevity, and have some of the lowest rates of Alzheimer’s disease. It’s been shown to boost memory and attention and slow the rate of age-related cognitive decline.
Refined carbs can sabotage our brain function because they rapidly spike and crash blood sugar levels. Since our brain uses glucose for fuel, it depends on steady blood sugar levels to maintain focus, a stable mood and concentration. Blood sugar spikes and crashes can promote feelings of confusion, irritability and fogginess as the body tries to normalize such rapid fluctuations.
Low-fat diets can also impair optimal brain function due to the fact that the brain is made up of approximately 60% fat. In fact, essential fatty acids such as omega-3’s are directly involved in the synthesis and function of brain neurotransmitters. This means that a low intake of essential fatty acids can lead to impaired memory, a low mood and a lack of attentiveness.
Gluten, a protein found in grains, is linked to brain fog and impaired cognitive function. As a common food sensitivity that promotes inflammation in the body, gluten has been shown to cause symptoms such as anxiety and depression.
In other words, we need to pick foods our great, great grandparents would have eaten, and stay away from so-called modern, highly processed foods that are filled with nasty chemicals. Many foods today are genetically modified. So, they are not as nutritious as organic, natural foods. And even worse, they can be dangerous to our health.
There is considerable evidence that diets high in antioxidants such as vitamins C and E prevent age-related memory loss and other degenerative brain disorders. It is very important to eat a diet rich with green leafy vegetables; highly-colored vegetables such as carrots, yams, and squash; and flavonoid-rich fruits such as citrus, berries, and cherries.
But the key to improved brain function may be as simple as making a handful of nuts a part of our daily diet. Walnuts have long been considered to have medicinal benefits – they contain plenty of antioxidants, as well as omega-3 fatty acids. The key to their memory-boosting abilities lies in their rich alpha-linolenic acid content. That’s why walnuts are so special – they contain more ALA than most other types of nuts. Which means that those at risk for Alzheimer’s and dementia may benefit hugely from consuming just a handful of walnuts every day.
A list of the top memory foods and their main brain-enhancing components includes, but is not limited to:
Avocados — monounsaturated fats, tyrosine
Berries of all kinds — anthocyanins, resveratrol
Coconut oil — medium chain triglycerides
Cold-water, fatty fish — omega-3 essential fatty acids
Grass fed beef - EPA and DHA
Dark chocolate — flavonols, caffeine
Eggs — choline, omega-3 essential fatty acids
Fermented foods — probiotics
Green leafy vegetables — vitamins C, K, and B complex, magnesium
Olive oil — monounsaturated fats, vitamins E and K
Sea vegetables — iodine, vitamin B12, inositol
Turmeric — curcumin, turmerone
Flaxseeds and pumkin seeds - ALA - alpha linolenic acxid, zinc
Rosemary - carnosic acid which is loaded with brain shielding properties
Onions - antioxidants quercetin and anthocyanin
Apple a day to keep neurologist away!
Raw honey - potassium, B vitamins, manganese, phosphorous, magnesium, and antioxidants.
Beetroot - increases hemoglobin level and blood flow to the brain
Water - super food - helps in augmenting memory power and flush out toxins from the body which in turn, improves memory and concentration.
Caffeine is the world’s most favorite mind-altering drug. People around the world drink it to upgrade their memory, mood, focus, and productivity, and while some caffeine might be helpful, too much can cause irritability, sleeplessness, anxiety, and addiction.
Did you know that caffeine now meets the criteria for an addictive substance: dependence, tolerance, and withdrawal? For this reason, drink caffeine strategically.
Virtually all vitamins are needed in adequate amounts for a fully functioning brain and memory. Proper amounts of vitamins C, D, E, K and B complex have been linked to memory enhancement. The same goes for minerals like magnesium, iron, iodine, and zinc.