Tag Archives: Active Brain

Eating For A Healthy Brain!

The best way to keep your body healthy is by physical exercise and eating well. This holds true for keeping your mind healthy. Nutrition plays a crucial role in keeping your brain healthy as evidenced by a study from the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America that found that “the brain is made up of 60% fat and that fat insulates the nerve tracks. Without the fat stores in the brain, we slow down mentally.” Individuals need to consume the right kinds of foods and avoid foods that are high in sugar or transfats as those foods aren’t good for your brain or your body. Focusing on foods that are good for your brain and reducing your risk of Alzheimer’s is something we can all agree is a good plan, right?

Here are some foods to keep in your pantry and kitchen to feed your brain with:

  • Go nuts! Walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts and pecans, that is. Walnuts are filled with Omega-3 fatty acids, great for your brain and they also are packed with nutrition. A study in mice found that those mice that were given walnuts showed a marked improvement in both motor coordination and memory. Nuts also contain flavonoids and vitamin E, both of which can protect your brain.
  • Go fish! When eating fish, prepare it in a heart healthy way by avoiding fish fries and opting for baked or broiled styles. Mackerel, salmon and sardines are high in Omega-3 fatty acids. Eating eight ounces of fish per week is ideal. If you can’t abide fish, though, ask your doctor whether taking a fish oil supplement would be of benefit.
  • Grab a handful! Eating berries – blueberries, cranberries and strawberries – infuses your body (and your brain) with antioxidants. Almost all berries are full of polyphenols, an antioxidant that stops inflammation and helps your brain cells function at higher levels. Berries have been shown to enhance your brain’s ability to gather and process information.
  • Eat your greens! “Eat your vegetables,” It’s a mantra we have likely heard from childhood but as we age eating green, leafy vegetables such as spinach or kale becomes even more important. These vegetables are packed with fiber and antioxidants. A national study showed that women, aged 60 and older, who ate more green, leafy vegetables scored higher on memory and verbal tests than did women in the same age group that didn’t eat as many greens.
  • Spice it up! Adding turmeric, which is full of vitamin D3 may help your brain rid itself of amino acids that form plaque on the brain. The plaque is associated with onset of Alzheimer’s. When you’re cooking, look for ways to use turmeric in your recipes.
  • Wake up and enjoy! Yes, you can have your coffee and your chocolate as part of a brain-healthy diet! A study conducted by the University of South Florida showed that individuals aged 65 and older who drank three cups of coffee a day were able to ward off the onset of Alzheimer’s for an additional three to five years. Caffeine is also shown to help reverse, or at least slow down, the impacts of Alzheimer’s.  Imbibe in chocolate, dark chocolate preferably, as a way to keep your brain healthy. The flavonoids contained in dark chocolate may help you stay brain healthy, so enjoy!

For the most part, a brain-healthy diet is one that benefits both body and mind. Keep in mind too, that staying active both physically and mentally will help you live a longer, healthier life!

Five Ways To Maximize Your Memory

How many times have you walked into a room only to have forgotten why you were there? Do you misplace your keys frequently? It happens to all of us, and while we may have to accept that as we age our minds may not be as sharp as they once were, there are things you can do to boost your brain power and maximize your memory.

Here are five tips for sharpening your memory:

  1. Sit down with your children or grandchildren and play a video game! You’re never too old to learn to play and they just might be good for your brain power. Playing multi-player video games or online role playing games have been proven to boost cognitive function according to a study from the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. Because video games involve the use of several different mental abilities including hand-eye coordination, problem solving, reaction time and simply paying attention, your brain gets a workout while you play.
  2. Spend time in mindful meditation. Researchers from UCLA discovered that individuals who meditated had more (physical gray matter) brain power than those who didn’t.  The reason for this could be that even though our brains shrink as we age, meditation may slow the shrinking process. Take time, several times a day to quietly contemplate and relax.
  3. Get up and move and even lift some weights! While you don’t want to start an exercise routine without first clearing it with your physician, it’s been shown in Alzheimer’s studies that individuals who lifted weights and increased their muscle strength were less likely to develop Alzheimer’s. Also, the simple act of being active stimulates your synapses and keeps you more alert. Being physically active can also help prevent the risk of trip and fall accidents as your joints, muscles and bones are strengthened through use and activity.
  4. Lose weight and pick up healthy habits. Everyone knows the risks of smoking and health but it’s also been found that heavy smokers were at a higher risk (70%) of developing dementia or Alzheimer’s. Eating healthy and exercising as a way to ward off obesity may also prevent the onset of heart disease, diabetes or myriad other weight-related issues. Ask your doctor for advice on healthy meal planning as well as how best to get started on exercising. Start off slow with a walk around the neighborhood and work your way up to more strenuous activity. Don’t forget that yardwork and gardening are also great ways to be active!
  5. Don’t stress the “small stuff.” As we age, it takes us longer to complete tasks than it used to, but that is no reason to stress. It’s a proven fact that as we age we have slower response times and it may take us longer to make decisions; it doesn’t necessarily mean we have slower mental processes, it may simply mean we are taking longer to make a conscious choice. Trust your instincts.

Being physically fit and staying mentally active are worthy goals for anyone of any age, but these become even more important as we age. What steps are you taking toward better mental and physical health?