Brain health is a big topic at the moment with the rising numbers of people with varying degrees of dementia.
It is not just the older generation that is affected. Many people are getting severe memory problems in their 40 ‘s and 50’s which can be the prime of their lives.
Why are so many people developing memory disorders?
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A combination of modern technology which keeps our brains over-wired and over charged is one reason and the other is not having adequate nutrition to meet the needs of our modern lifestyles.
Your brain is like a telecommunications centre constantly passing on messages around your body and needs a good supply of nutrients in order to carry out correct instructions.
See what you can do to boost brain health
Follow my Top 10 diet and lifestyle suggestions:
1. Stay hydrated
2. Balance blood sugar
3. Top up on essential fats
4. Go gluten free
5. Moderate alcohol
6. Boost your brain with Super foods
7. Top up on vitamins B & vitamins C
1. We can live without food for days but not without water. The brain needs to keep hydrated to keep the cells fluid integrity. Dehydration in older people can cause confusion so keep a bottle of water in your bag or on your desk at work or home to sip slowly throughout the day. Add slices of lemon or lime or a dash of elderflower to improve flavour. The occasional glass of coconut water is also hydrating.
2. Too many refined foods containing sugar and white flour cause fluctuations in blood sugar which make it difficult to concentrate so increase more wholegrain foods such as porridge and quinoa and always eat with protein which slows down the release of sugar into the body to help you concentrate and manage mood.
3. For many years we have been told that fat is bad for you. We do however need essential fats which the body cannot make to help form healthy cells and improve communications of brain cells known as neurons. The fats such as omega 3 oils keep the blood flowing reducing stickiness and help increase absorption or serotonin the happy mood and sleep hormone.
So have oily fish such as sardines, salmon and mackerel 2-3 times a week. Additionally a tablespoon of seeds daily from pumpkin, flaxseed (linseed) and sunflower or sesame.
4. Go gluten free for at least 3 months. Gluten can make you feel fuzzy brained and if you are eating grains such as wheat found in bread, pasta, cakes and biscuits 2-3 times a day it could be making your brain feel sluggish.
So swap toast at breakfast for gluten free oats. Lunch ditch the bread for fish and salad or soup and dinner swap the pasta for a ramekin of brown rice with your main meal.
5. Alcohol can be ok in moderation but excess dehydrates and basically kills off brains cells. So ideally try 1 small glass a day maximum 150ml with 2 days off and only drink with a meal. Red wine has come up with more beneficial research plus if the grapes have survived a few frosts they will be more nutritious as they naturally product more nutrients to protect themselves. Make sure you have a glass of water after your wine and on rising.
6. Add in a couple of superfoods which generally have a powerhouse of nutrients in them in particular polyphenols in raw cacao, and blueberries.
– Raw cacao is the most nutritous means you retain more nutrients which boost the circulation as well as the good mood serotonin.
– Blueberries have been researched to help people’s memory function after eating them regularly in a smoothie in place of bananas.
– Green tea is becoming even more popular with many more flavours being made available. Two cups a day with help boost polyphenol catechins to help support circulation and energy for clearer thinking. If you don’t like the taste then try a capsule instead or the Matcha powder which is equivalent to about 8 cups a day!
– Raw Coconut oil is a new kid on the block proving to be very popular and provides instant energy for the brain and there have been some reports of people with dementia symptoms being more manageable when adding 1 tablespoon to their daily diet. It’s good on crackers, in smoothies and stir fry.
7. Boost your B vitamin intake to support the nervous system. B vitamins in particular B12, and folic acid (folate in natural food sources) have been well researched in the last couple of years particularly by Professor David Smith from which he suggests that people may get some protection from dementia if they take a B complex on a regular basis.
However to get the absorption levels up they need to be in the methylated form which can bypass anyone with low stomach acid which decreases in stressful situations and naturally as we age – particularly at 50 plus.
Also more research on the brain needing more vitamin C with protection against oxidative stress which could otherwise lead to memory problems. Any easy way to top up your vitamin C is to a have a couple of kiwi fruit regularly which have 60mg per fruit. Also pineapple and citrus fruit.
Eat them away from tea and coffee.
8. Regular exercise boosts circulation and therefore absorption of nutrients and uptake of oxygen. We should be walking at least 10,000 steps a day (4miles or 7km). Ideally try something that is fun such as hoola hooping or join a running or cycling club.
9. Relaxing to reduce stress and and help slow down a busy brain. From meditation to even finding an absorbing hobby such as painting or pottery classes which are back in trend. Colouring in books for adults are also trending at the moment.
10. Get a good nights sleep. On average 7 hours is considered the optimum amount. Make sure you switch off all ipads and phones at least 1 hour for your brain to get into sleep mode and avoid caffeine and excess alcohol just before bed. Keep all electronic gadgets out of the bedroom or at least switch them off completely to prevent the flashing on buttons from keeping your brain in wake mode.
I hope you find something from the above list to keep your brain boosted naturally and learn to know when you need some down time to reboot it.
Read more from Expert Judy Watson.