Boost your brain

Try these 10 eating tips in 2014 to stay sharp

food for brainContributed by Angela Fitch, MD, ABOM

It’s time to ring out the old and bring in the new. This year, consider adding some foods to your “to-try” list that are good for more than just your body—these super foods will help “age-proof” your brain.

  1. Eat more (soluble) fiber. Incorporating more soluble fiber into every meal helps fight against insulin resistance. And insulin resistance can create brain-chemical imbalances, like those often seen in Alzheimer’s patients. So, at your next meal, be sure your plate has some kind of soluble fiber like beans, peas, barley or apples.
  2. Don’t skip meals. Not eating for about 12 hours, including the time you sleep, may help put your body in a very mild ketosis. Ketosis  is a state when your brain uses ketone for energy.
  3. Add seeds to more meals. Sprinkling pumpkin, sunflower, sesame or flax seeds on salads, cereals or yogurt to boost your vitamin E levels, and help protect your brain against free-radical damage. A Dutch study found that participants who ate more vitamin E had a 25 percent lower chance of developing dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
  4. Add leafy greens. Vitamin B is a compilation of eight different vitamins, known as vitamin B complex, found naturally in high-protein foods. Leafy greens are another natural food source containing lots of B vitamins.
  5. Eat more eggs. Eggs contain key nutrients for brain health: protein, iron, vitamin D, zinc and even choline. Researchers at the Boston School of Medicine found that adults who had a diet rich in choline had higher scores on verbal and visual memory tests, and were “less likely to show changes on brain scans that are associated with dementia.”
  6. Eat more Mediterranean-style dishes. Rich in antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids and healthy fats, Mediterranean diets have long been associated with slowing cognitive decline.
  7. Be sure to get adequate amounts of vitamin B. Foods rich in vitamin B can help prevent against temporary dementia (caused by low-levels of this critical vitamin) and improved cognitive function. At every meal, load up with foods rich in folate  and all B vitamins to keep your brain running smoothly.
  8. Spice things up-with cinnamon. Cinnamon can offer many benefits to your brain, including anti-inflammatory properties, antioxidants and reduced blood sugar levels—all of which help keep you mentally sharp and ward off neurological conditions like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. So next time you’re getting ready to enjoy a nice, healthy bowl of oatmeal, add a little cinnamon.
  9. Snack on blueberries and strawberries. These popular fruits are more than just tasty treats. They can help you learn more quickly and keep your memory sharp. The on-going Nurses’ Health Study showed that older adults who ate more of these super-berries had slower rates of cognitive decline as they aged. 
  10. Eat fatty fish twice a week. Researchers at Columbia University found that healthy adults who eat more omega-3 fatty acids, like those found in fatty fish, had lower levels of a protein associated with an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and age-related cognitive decline.
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