Straight, No Chaser: Brain Health – Foods and Brain Healthy Habits
I only get asked about this everyday, so let’s review keeping your brain healthy. Unfortunately too often some of you only ask at the point when early dementia or Alzheimer’s disease has begun to develop, but this is another example of an ounce of prevention being worth a pound of cure. Also, these requests often seem to be related to some internet promise of health based on some fad or miracle cure. Remember the Straight, No Chaser dictum: your health won’t be found in a bottle.
In a previous post about how your brain works, we pointed out that your brain consumes a tremendous proportion of the body’s oxygen supply. So to begin the conversation, just remember that a diet promoting good blood flow throughout the body promotes good blood flow to the brain. I wish I could convince you that a baseline level of brain health is just this simple: consume a diet low in fat and cholesterol. If you’re not clogging the arteries in the rest of your body, you won’t be clogging arteries in your brain. The same things you’re doing to avoid diabetes and hypertension will help you here.
As such let’s provide an overview to five basic principles to keep your brain healthy. If you adhere to these, you can save the money you’re spending on ginkgo biloba.
Reduce your fat and cholesterol intake
It’s as simple as already discussed. High intake of these foods promotes a higher risk of Alzheimer’s disease later in life. Try these specific tips.
- Use olive oil instead of other saturated fats.
- Bake or grill your food instead of frying it.
Eat foods shown to protect and promote brain health
I want to make this simple. If you’re eating dark-skinned fruits and/or vegetables, you’re being good to your brain. These foods tend to have the highest levels of antioxidants fighting off damage to your brain cells. Here are some specific examples of brain healthy foods. Try working them into your diet.
- Fruits – blackberries, blueberries, cherries, oranges, plums, prunes, raisins, raspberries, red grapes and strawberries
- Vegetables – alfalfa and Brussels sprouts, beets, broccoli, corn, eggplant, kale, onion, red bell pepper and spinach
- Nuts – almonds, pecans and walnuts are a good source of vitamin E, another powerful antioxidant
- Fish – halibut, mackerel, salmon, trout and tuna (all contain omega-3 fatty acids, which are brain healthy)
The best way to obtain brain-healthy vitamins is through a brain-healthy diet. Foods strong in vitamins E, C, B12 and folate appear to be important in lowering your risk of developing Alzheimer’s. It should come as no surprise that the foods listed above meet that criteria. You may not know that obtaining vitamins through your food appears to deliver what you need better than taking pills.
If you’re keeping your heart strong and pumping blood efficiently throughout your body, your brain is getting its needed supply of oxygen and nutrients. Check this Straight, No Chaser on basic exercise tips.
Be social, Be a lifelong learner
Exercise your brain through social interactions with others, especially those that “stimulate your brain.” The diversity of experience keeps different parts of your brain active, alert, functioning and healthy. Learn a new skill or language. It’s almost as good as starting over!
Another Straight, No Chaser will focus on additional ways for you to engage your brain to keep it working and working well.
Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.
Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new book Behind The Curtain: A Peek at Life from within the ER at , iTunes, Amazon, Barnes and Nobles and wherever books are sold.
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