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Aging Brain: 10 Foods To Help

Alzheimer Patient

In casual conversations with my friends at lunch and dinner, the subject of “losing your mind” comes up constantly.  Some of them say it would be worse than getting cancer. There is so much fear around this subject.

I have a personal story about “losing your mind”. My dad at the age of 84 yrs old fell off his bike and hit his head on the cement (no helmut!) experiencing trauma to every part of his brain. He was in the hospital for 6 weeks in a drug-induced coma for most of it and has been in and out of rehab for the last 3 yrs. He has never been the same, even though it’s not Alzheimers, it feels like it. He has no short term memory, limited long term memory, he can’t drive, care for himself, work (which he was doing and loved up until his accident), or play golf.

Alzheimer’s is becoming more common with over forty million people affected worldwide. It’s severely damaging to one’s quality of life.

We now know more than ever regarding the human brain, but we still do not have all the pieces to the Alzheimer’s puzzle. With that being said, we do know this:

  1. Alzheimer’s is a progressive brain condition, which results in destroyed brain cells. This damage is what affects one’s memory, confusion, as well as a shift in one’s thinking patterns.
  1. Currently, there is no cure. 
  1. Researchers have identified hallmark changes in the brain, which include a build-up of plaques, increased inflammation, a lack of communication between brain cells, and tangles (twisted strands of tau protein).

Consume These Ten Foods to Prevent Alzheimer’s

Numerous studies have reported a link between nutrition and Alzheimer’s disease. Considering it’s now estimated that one out of every four Americans will suffer from this disease in the next 20 years, preventative measures are essential.

There are foods which are believed to significantly reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s, just as there are foods to avoid. New research has emerged from Rush University in Chicago, focusing on a diet known as MIND (Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay).

After following 923 participants for nine years, the MIND diet was associated with a 53% reduced risk of Alzheimer’s. The following ten foods should be implemented into your current diet, as you take a proactive approach against Alzheimer’s and other chronic diseases.

Brain Booster #1: Dark Leafy Greens

Leafy greens are a highly beneficial source of both lutein and zeaxanthin (which have been linked to lower rates of cognitive decline). Greens such as spinach, kale, collard, and turnips greens are all packed with vitamins A, C, E and K, as well as a number of minerals, protein and fiber. A minimum of two servings is recommended per week, however, six or more servings has been found to yield the greatest effects.

Brain Booster #2: All Other Vegetables  

Both fruits and vegetables are essential for your health, but vegetables tend to be particularly protective in terms of your brain. Plant-based foods are extremely high in antioxidants. Since oxidative stress is also believed to play a role in Alzheimer’s, consuming more vegetables can help target free radicals. Vitamins C and E are of particular interest, as well as beta-carotene, a precursor to vitamin A.

Brain Booster #3: Berries

The high concentration of flavonoids in berries can effectively cross the blood-brain barrier, creating both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Consume a mixture of blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, and raspberries, at least twice weekly.

Brain Booster #4: Beans

Beans are low in fat and calories, yet extremely high in fiber and protein. Beans are high in B-complex vitamins, which are believed to play a vital role in preventing brain shrinkage. They’re also a rich source of magnesium, helping increase blood flow. When blood flow is increased, more oxygen and nutrients are able to reach the brain. Eat beans a minimum of three times weekly.

Brain Booster #5: Nuts

Nuts are the perfect snack, as they provide you with antioxidants, protein, and healthy fats. Walnuts are a high source of plant-based omega 3 fatty acids, which have been shown to reduce the effects of an aging brain. Raw almonds offer your body and mind vitamin E. Since vitamin E has shown significant effects regarding Alzheimer’s prevention, ensure that you eat some almonds within your recommended five servings of nuts weekly.

Brain Booster #6: Whole Grains

Whole grains are exactly as they sound. After milling, whole grains maintain their original structure: the bran, the germ, and the endosperm. The bran provides fiber, minerals, phytochemicals and B-vitamins; the endosperm contains protein and carbohydrates; while the germ contains vitamins and minerals, including B-vitamins, vitamin E, and selenium. It is recommended that you eat at least three servings a day. 

Brain Booster #7: Fish

Fish is one of the leading sources of omega-3 fatty acids. These healthy fats (more specifically DHA and EPA) have been shown to reduce one’s risk of cognitive decline. Fish are also high in vitamins B3, B6, and B12, as well as protein, choline, selenium, potassium, and more. Fish is most certainly beneficial, but you do not need to go overboard. Based on the MIND diet, once a week is enough.

Brain Booster #8: Poultry

Chicken is rich in choline, as well as vitamin B3 and B6. Research has found that those who consume high levels of choline, performed better on memory tests while reducing their risk of Alzheimer’s. Always choose free-range organic chicken so that you do not expose your body and mind to antibiotics and hormones. You should consume two or more servings of chicken a week.

Brain Booster #9: Olive Oil

Both olives and olive oil contain a rare antioxidant known as tyrosol, as well as a number of other phytochemicals. It’s been found that olive oil reduces inflammation and helps eliminate plaques associated with Alzheimer’s.

Since these plaques develop over time, this is exciting news in terms of prevention. By continuously removing plaques, you can essentially protect your cognitive health. Olive oil is best eaten in its raw state, as heating increases oxidation. Using it within homemade vinaigrettes are a great way to increase your intake.

Brain Booster #10: Wine  

Red wine provides resveratrol, a highly beneficial antioxidant. Once again, this is believed to play a role in eliminating plaques, which cause damage to cognitive health. Only one glass a day is recommended. 

It is crucial that you minimize your intake of refined sugars. Ideally, you should stick to a low glycemic diet, which is rich in antioxidants and vitamins. Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are essential, as well as healthy fats (fish, nuts and oils).

As a side note, my daughter gave me a very cool bracelet for Mother’s Day called, Lokai. The guy who invented it has a brown bead on the bracelet that represents a low point in his life – his grandfather was diagnosed with Alzheimers. The brown bead is mud from the Dead Sea (the lowest point on earth). There is a white bead too which represents the highest point in his life from (snow from Mt Everest). There are clear beads in between to help you think about having more balance in your life. Any little reminder is beneficial!

 

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