Food For Thought
In support of keeping our thinking fine tuned and full of possibility, taking a proactive stance in treating our brain to the very best in loving care makes inspired sense.
Couple this with the growing body of research that clearly suggests that we can have a powerful impact on how healthfully our brain, mind and memory functions throughout life. The lifestyle choices that we make may be the best brain and memory medicine that we can take.
Let’s start with the food we eat. A diet rich in key nutrients can be a brain’s best friend. Here’s what to add to your shopping cart: To begin, think breakfast and blueberries. One major brain-benefit from blueberries comes from a powerful antioxidant source called polyphenols. Polyphenols help to protect the brain against oxidative stress, which can lead to unhealthy brain aging.
In smoothies, on top of whole grain cereal, added to muffins or straight up blueberries may help with memory wellness by actually reversing age-related cognitive decline. Blueberries also contain ellagic acid, which has been shown to have anti-cancer properties. Stick around the produce aisle a little longer and take a lead from Harvard based research that concluded that cruciferous vegetables may help keep our memories sharp as we age.
Choose among broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, mustard greens, spinach, kale, and any other dark green leafies that may entice you. Whether we sauté, steam or add them to a fresh salad the power of these vegetables is compelling. Researchers concluded that people who ate the most were less likely to be forgetful as they aged. The leafy greens and spinach are also a good source of the B vitamin, folate. Folate has attracted a lot of attention due to its promise in protecting against cognitive decline. Other folate-rich foods include beans, legumes, and fortified grains. But wait, there’s much more!
The original brain food might actually be fish, full of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids. An observational study found that eating just one fish meal per week was associated with a 10% slower rate of cognitive decline. That 10% really adds up — it translates into three to four more “good years” for your brain and the earlier you begin the longer the benefits. Fish also has many “side benefits” including supporting a positive mood and optimistic outlook.
Nuts and seeds also contain some healthy fats plus vitamin E so when cruising the snack section reach for your favorites (hint: think walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds). Diets rich in Vitamin E foods (whole grains, nuts, seeds and vegetable oils) have been associated with a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
Moving further down the grocery aisles, while in the herb and spice section be mindful to pick up the bright yellow spice, turmeric. A favorite of Indian cuisine, turmeric (aka curcumin) has been shown to be a powerful force in helping lower rates of Alzheimer’s disease. This is due to turmeric’s powerful anti-inflammatory qualities. Turmeric is an awesome addition to stir fries and salad dressings (plus it is usually what makes most curries bright yellow).
To top off your “brain smart cart” don’t forget the green tea. Rich in a powerful brain protective antioxidant called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), researchers from the Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that people who regularly drink green tea have sharper minds then those who do not drink green tea. Having as little as 4 to 6 cups per week resulted in 38% less cognitive impairment-we can enthusiastically raise a mug and toast to that!
Let’s also look beyond the aisles of the grocery store for our brain boost. Moderate exercise can help support optimal cognitive function and decrease overall risk for Alzheimer’s disease by up to four times – even when started later in life! In much the same way our muscles get stronger in our bodies with exercise so do our minds grow stronger with exercise. Dedicate yourself to be a life time learner by stretching your mind to grow, to learn and to be actively thinking new and inspired thoughts.
We are all about thoughts and beliefs. Our ability to “think and believe well” holds unlimited opportunity. Including exercise and healthy eating as part of our daily ritual is a powerful way to help achieve clarity of mind and outstanding brain chemistry!