Are you having trouble remembering little things lately? Forget what you were just talking about? Forget what you were looking for? Can’t find your keys…again? Why is that? Well, as we age the cells in our brain that “talk” to one another become inflamed, especially with chronic conditions such as heart disease and diabetes. New research shows that these below foods actually help to prevent aging of the brain. The Alzheimer’s Association states the “brain-healthy diet” actually reduces risk of heart disease, diabetes and encourages good blood flow to the brain. Include the following foods in your daily routine and delight in finally being able to remember you placed those darn keys!
According to a 2009 Tufts University study, blackberries help neurons communicate with each other which improves our ability to learn new information due to a specific compound they contain called polyphenols.
Coffee contains more antioxidants than a cup of fresh blueberries. A recent Finnish study of 1,400 longtime coffee drinkers discovered that people who sipped between three to five cups of coffee a day in their 40s and 50s greatly reduced their odds of developing Alzheimer’s disease by 65% compared to those who downed fewer than two cups a day.
Apples contain an antioxidant called quercetin which has been shown to actually protect our brain cells. According to researchers at Cornell University, quercetin defends your brain cells from free radical attacks, which can damage the outer lining of delicate neurons and eventually lead to cognitive decline.
Polyphenols in cocoa can help increase blood flow to the brain. A 2009 Journal of Nutrition study found that eating one-third of an ounce of chocolate a day (the size of two Hershey’s kisses) helps protect against age-related memory loss.
Research from the University of California at Santa Barbara reveals that two compounds in cinnamon – proanthocyanidins and cinnamaldehyde – may inactivate certain proteins in the brain that cause cells to die.
A 2008 Neurology study reveals that eating three servings of leafy green, yellow and cruciferous vegetables a day can delay cognitive decline by 40%. Of these three, leafy greens were found to be the most protective.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
According to research conducted at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia, PA last year, extra virgin olive oil may be a potent fighter against ADDLs which are amyloid B-derived diffusible ligands (Alzheimer’s-inducing proteins) that are toxic to the brain.
A study published in the July 2010 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine reveals that older people who are vitamin D deficient are 40% more likely to suffer from age-related memory loss. Salmon is one of the best sources of food-containing Vitamin D and is a top source of DHA, the predominant fat in your brain.
According to experts at the University of California Los Angeles Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center, the main component in Turmeric, curcumin has been found to block the formation of beta amyloid plaques, which have been found to lead to Alzheimer’s disease.
Concord Grape Juice
When researchers at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine gave 12 older adults with declining memory a daily drink of Concord grape juice or a placebo drink for three months, they found that the volunteers who drank the grape juice significantly improved their spatial memory and verbal learning skills. Researchers believe that – just like blackberries – grape juice polyphenols improve communication between brain cells.
Go Grain Free
Have you heard of the book, Grain Brain by Dr. David Perlmutter? Renowned neurologist David Perlmutter, MD, blows the lid off a topic that’s been buried in medical literature for far too long: carbs are destroying your brain. And not just unhealthy carbs, but even healthy ones like whole grains can cause dementia, ADHD, anxiety, chronic headaches, depression, and much more. Dr. Perlmutter explains what happens when the brain encounters common ingredients in your daily bread and fruit bowls, why your brain thrives on fat and cholesterol, and how you can spur the growth of new brain cells at any age. He offers an in-depth look at how we can take control of our “smart genes” through specific dietary choices and lifestyle habits, demonstrating how to remedy our most feared maladies without drugs.
Okay, now that we know what foods keep us mentally sharp, how are we going to LIVE FRESH with a healthy brain? Here are a few tips to incorporate into your day…
- Have a bowl of blackberries…as much as possible.
- Make a smoothie with blackberries (and add some cinnamon too!)
- Have your morning coffee instead of that powdered coffee or tea.
- Indulge in 1-3 small squares of dark chocolate daily. Remember- At least 72% cocoa!
- Have an apple a day as a snack.
- Enjoy a spinach salad. Juice greens and drink. Have a side dish of kale salad or sautéed greens in garlic and olive oil.
- Toss those bottled salad dressings and add real extra virgin olive oil to your salads.
- Have WILD salmon for dinner at least 2-3 times a week. Make a salmon salad or salmon cakes for a quick lunch.
- Cook your veggies in turmeric or even try adding it to your scrambled eggs.
- Have a small cup 3-4 ounces of 100% concord grape juice (if your not diabetic of course) daily.
- Order the book, Grain Brain by Dr. David Perlmutter. His cookbook is also great!