The health of your brain is linked intimately to your diet. Just as alcohol and drugs debilitate the brain, specific vitamins and nutrients bolster nerve connections, brain cells and cognitive function. If you want to be lucid deep into your golden years, give yourself every advantage possible. Diet is an excellent means to protect and preserve the health of your brain and overall cognitive function.
A study published in the December 26, 2007 issue of the Journal of Neuroscience, explained experiments undertaken with brain neurons from humans and rats. Within these experiments, Omega-3 fatty acids were found to boost the production of a specific protein, which is known to eliminate a brain plaque closely associated with Alzheimer’s Disease. The omega-3 fatty is acid used in this experiment is called DHA, it is found in cold water fish and fish oil supplements. Another critical omega-3 fatty acid, EPA, is also found in the same fish.
Omega-3 fatty acids are highly concentrated in the brain, specifically the outer membrane in which all nerve signals pass through. Surprisingly, our bodies do not produce any omega-3 fatty acids naturally. So, we need to find the right sources and consume the proper amounts. Two servings of fish per week is largely regarded by nutritionists to provide us with an adequate supply of DHA omega-3’s . However, mercury intake is now a risk when eating fish regularly. Tilefish, mackerel, shark and swordfish are documented to have the highest levels of mercury, so avoid those fish.
Another important Omega-3 fatty acid is called ALA. It can be found in flaxseed oil, pumpkin seeds, mustard seeds, soy beans, raw nuts and dark green vegetables such as spinach and Brussel sprouts. It is easy to incorporate raw peanuts, walnuts, sunflower seeds, almonds and pecans into your weekly diet. These nuts and seeds are high in thiamine, vitamin E, riboflavins, magnesium and vitamin B, all of which increase memory and cognitive function.
Blueberries, strawberries and blackberries each have specific properties that boost memory, brain cell regeneration and neurological function. Most importantly, however, is that all of these berries contain powerful anti-oxidants. Oxidative stress, which damages and ages cells throughout our entire body, is particularly harmful to our brain. Combat oxidative stress and free radicals with regular consumption of these berries. One cup of berries per day is sufficient.
Avocado and eggplant are also included in the brain food group. The monounsaturated fats in avocados is great for blood circulation, which is critical for optimal brain function. Eat up to 1/2 of an avocado per day. Eggplant skin contains a special nutrient called nasunin which enhances communication between brain cells.
Drink 8 cups of water throughout the day. Your brain is 80% water, so proper hydration is as critical as proper nutrition. The brain is keen to let you know when you haven’t hydrated properly. Nearly all headaches are a result of dehydration, although many people mistake the headache as stress related.
Eliminate as much sugar, flour and refined carbohydrates (pasta) from your diet as possible. High sugar intake swamps our system with insulin. Aside from the notable risk of diabetes, high insulin levels are known to lead to mood and behavior disorders as well as memory loss. Refined carbohydrates are associated with inflammation of body tissues, including the brain. New information links this inflammation with every known disease of the mind – schizophrenia to Alzheimer’s.