Caring for your brain
How a nutrient dense, anti-inflammatory diet can be your greatest ally in the fight against neurological degeneration
In modern society, cognitive decline is widely accepted as a ‘normal’ part of aging. Expressions such as ‘having a senior moment’ are common terminology, and we’re often blaming lapses of memory or concentration on simply ‘getting older.’ In many ways, we have resigned ourselves to spending the golden years of our lives without the mental capacity to fully enjoy it as we should.
But what society considers to be normal does not have to be so for all of us. Studies focusing on elderly populations in some of the healthiest regions of the world such as Sardinia (Italy) and Okinawa (Japan) have found minimal cognitive decline even as subjects entered their ninth decade. These studies certainly suggest that significant brain degeneration is not an inevitable consequence of aging.
With the right diet and lifestyle changes, we can preserve the health of our brain and ensure we maintain our quality of life as we advance in years. Whether you’re 22 or 82, there’s no better time to start paying attention to your brain health than today.
Here are our 5 top tips for caring for your brain!
#1 – Eat plenty of healthy fats
Around 60% of your brain is phospholipid (made from fat), so it makes sense to eat plenty of it to maintain the health of our brains! This certainly doesn’t mean a free pass at the buffet – the key word here is healthy fat, so make sure you are eating the right kinds to feed your brain.
Omega 3, found in oily fish such as salmon, mackerel and sardines, is key for the health of our brain. Omega 3’s have been shown to have a remarkable ability to halt age related neurological decline, and consuming more omega 3’s has actually been shown to increase our grey matter. The anti-inflammatory properties of omega 3 also increase blood flow to the brain. High omega 3 intake is a common theme in all of the longest living populations across the world, so pay careful attention to your intake of this nutrient.
Not keen on fish? Vivo Life recommends a high quality omega 3 supplement. Visit their website and search ‘Omega 3’ to find one that’s right for you.
Coconut Oil is also fantastic for brain health, and has been linked to an improvement or even a reversal in Alzheimer’s and dementia symptoms in studies at Oxford University. Coconut oil is rich in a unique type of fatty acid called medium chain triglycerides, which have been shown to have deeply therapeutic effects on cognitive function.
Coconut oil is easy to add to your diet; cook with it, spread it, or even use it in baking. Pure, unrefined, organic coconut oil is available at Vivo Life!
#2 – Avoid food toxins
Food toxins – notably refined sugar, refined flour and refined oil – have a devastating effect on cognitive function and have been shown to actually accelerate the degeneration of brain cells. The key word to look for here is ‘refined,’ so always prioritise whole foods over processed ones to lower your intake of food toxins. Pay attention to the oil that your food is cooked in too; choose butter over margarine, and coconut or olive oil over vegetable oil.
Here are some quick swaps to help you remove food toxins from your diet!
Sugar à Fruit / Honey
Vegetable Oil à Coconut Oil / Olive Oil
Margarine à Butter
Bread / Pasta à Extra vegetables
#3 – Increase blood flow to the brain
Regular exercise is by far the best way to do this! It doesn’t have to be intense – simply going for a walk is an excellent way to get the blood pumping all around your body. Take a look at the following image, which shows the difference in brain activity after a 20 minute walk:
<img class="alignnone size-thumbnail wp-image-1906" src="http://www.liveincare.com/assets/brain-after-20-minute-walk-150×150.jpg" alt="brain after 20 minute walk" width="150" height="150" srcset="http://www.liveincare.com/assets/brain-after-20-minute-walk-150×150.jpg 150w, http://www generic vytorin.liveincare.com/assets/brain-after-20-minute-walk-65×65.jpg 65w” sizes=”(max-width: 150px) 100vw, 150px” />
As you can see, there is a far greater concentration of active neurones in the ‘walking’ brain. Exercise regularly to keep your brain healthy!
#4 – Get plenty of sleep
During sleep, our body repairs itself – both physically and psychologically. To allow your brain cells to heal and regenerate successfully, aim to get 8 hours sleep each night.
To help you get a sound sleep, aim to get plenty of sunshine in the daytime and avoid bright light in the evening to regulate your circadian rhythm. Herbal teas containing chamomile, marshmallow root, lemon balm and valerian root are excellent ways to help you drift off naturally. Be sure to visit the ‘stress and sleep’ section of our website to help you engineer the perfect night’s rest.
#5 – Consume plenty of ‘brain superfoods’
Foods high in iron, folate, and vitamin B12 are widely considered to be ‘brain superfoods’ as they increase the rate at which oxygen is delivered to the brain. Some great sources of these nutrients include:
– Organic, grass fed beef
– Dark chocolate
– Pumpkin seeds
If you enjoy a curry, don’t hold back on the turmeric. This powerfully anti-inflammatory spice enhances neurogenesis, the process during which new brain cells are formed. The active ingredient, curcumin, also promotes cellular repair, which helps to heal degenerating brain cells.
The herb ginkgo biloba is another great choice, particularly in those who are beginning to show the early symptoms of neurodegeneration. Ginkgo biloba enhances blood flow to the brain, and has been clinically studied for it’s ability to reduce the symptoms of Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Be sure to check out the ‘Brain Food’ section of our website to find everything you need to feed your brain!
Wishing you good health, today and always.