Health of the brain

Dealing with bouts of “senior moments” and kids having difficulty staying on task at school has become a way of life for many people. Stress – be it mental, physical or emotional – exhausts the body and leaves it vulnerable to a host of ailments, including memory loss and brain fog.

It is known that Alzheimer’s disease begins many years before the symptoms appear and people need to think about the health of their brain in the same way they think about the health of their heart.

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While there are many factors that may be at the root of these problems, there are ways to super-charge your brain.

The best foods to improve memory:

Fish for DHA

In the brain, DHA seems to be very important for the normal functioning of neurons. Salmon, mackerel and sardines are rich in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, including docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).

Increasing your animal-based omega-3 fat intake and reducing consumption of damaged omega-6 fats (think processed vegetable oils) in order to balance your omega-3 to omega-6 ratio, is also important.

As a supplement I prefer krill oil to fish oil, as krill oil also contains astaxanthin, which not only protects the omega-3 fats from oxidation but also appears to be particularly beneficial for brain health.

Green leafy vegetables for Folate

According to scientists in Holland high doses of folic acid improves memory and might help slow the cognitive decline of aging [1].

The new study however does not show folic acid preventing Alzheimer’s as the people who tested the vitamin had no symptoms of that disease. Kale, collard greens, spinach and broccoli are good sources of folate. Folate is also found in foods such as beans and animal liver.

Remember – chronic alcohol exposure impairs folate absorption. Broccoli and cauliflower are good sources of choline, a B vitamin known for its role in brain development  indicating that it may boost cognitive function, improve learning and memory, it may even diminish age-related memory decline.

Healthy Oils and Fats for Vit E

A potent antioxidant, vitamin E may help protect neurons or nerve cells. In Alzheimer’s disease, neurons in certain parts of the brain start to die, which jump-starts the cascade of events leading to cognitive deterioration.

best foods for memory_2

Coconut oil is healthful fat for brain function. According to research by Dr. Mary Newport, just over two tablespoons of coconut oil (about 35 ml or 7 level teaspoons) would supply you with the equivalent of 20 grams of medium-chain triglycerides (MCT), which is indicated as either a preventative measure against degenerative neurological diseases, or as a treatment for an already established case.

A creamy treat Avocado is also a rich source of the antioxidant vitamin E. And if you will mix it with a chocolate, you will have better mood and memory.

A small study is the latest to suggest that chemicals in cocoa called flavanols can have beneficial effects on the brain. Previous studies have suggested that mice on a flavanol-rich diet showed enhanced memory and greater blood flow to certain areas of the brain [2,3]. Try Avocado Chocolate Mousse to boost your memory.

Nuts and nutbutters although both are high in fat, nuts and nutbutters tend to be a good source of healthy fats. And they are also packed with vitamin E and vegetarian source of omega 3 fatty acids.

Think walnuts!

Berries

A new study by Harvard researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) finds that a high intake of flavonoid-rich berries, such as strawberries and blueberries, over time, can delay memory decline in older women by two and a half years.  This study was published today by Annals of Neurology, a journal of the American Neurological Association and Child Neurology Society.

A greater intake of anthocyanidins and total flavonoids was also associated with reduced memory decline and might even provide protection against disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

Bacopa monnieri is a super-herb

It is understood to be the most potent and effective nerve and brain tonic in Ayurvedic medicine.

A 2002 study published in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology found that using Bacopa monnieri for three months may improve memory and cognitive function. When 76 participants were tested on retention of new information, the placebo group forgot the information more quickly than the group taking Bacopa [4,5].

Turmeric

Curcumin has even been shown to boost memory and stimulate the production of new brain cells, a process known as neurogenesis.

Research has shown that curcumin may help inhibit the accumulation of destructive beta amyloids in the brain of Alzheimer’s patients, as well as break up existing plaques [6]. Enjoy some curry or make yourself a turmeric tea or turmeric smoothie.

In addition to foods you eat sniff “Rosemary, it can increase memory by 75%” researcher Jemma McCready said [7,8].

While these foods and herbs have excited the scientific community with its psycho-physiological potential, it must be said that there is never a magic bullet. The hallmark of wellness is living a healthy lifestyle in harmony with the environment and the cycles of nature to fully restore balance in your body.

References:

1. The Lancet, Volume 369, No. 9557, p208–216, 20 January 2007

2. US National Library of Medicine, The Journal of Neuroscience, Plant-derived flavanol

3. New Scientist, October 2014

4. US National Library of Medicine, Neuropsychopharmacology, Chronic effects of Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri) on human memory

5. US National Library of Medicine, Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, Effects of a Standardized Bacopa monnieri abstract

6. US National Library of Medicine, Journal of Alzheimer’s disease, 1alpha,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 abstract

7. Robert Tisserand Aromatherapy and rosemary memory research

8. US National Library of Medicine, Therapeutic Advances in Psychopharmacology abstract, Plasma 1,8-cineole abstract

 

Read more from Expert Dr. Vilma Brunhuber.

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