Many researchers have discovered that when people are low in certain nutrients, their mental performance drops. Many people are fine as long as they meet their nutritional needs. Even not getting enough water can cause the mind to get fuzzy. The thirst mechanism slows down as we get older, as a result, we’re not always aware right away that we need water. However, not all memory problems are caused by your diet, but when nothing else is wrong it may be what you eat that is slowing you down. |
Vitamin B for the Brain The vitamin B complex are probably the most essential nutrients to keep your mind sharp. Your body needs the B vitamins to transform food into mental energy and to manufacture and repair brain tissue. “Deficiencies in thiamin, niacin and vitamin B6 and B12 can all cause mental dysfunction”, says Vernon Mark, MD, author of Reversing Memory Loss. In fact, pellagra, a niacin deficiency, used to be a leading cause of admissions into mental hospitals,” he explains. Research has shown that when children are given 5 mg thiamin instead of the Daily Value of 1.5 mg, they achieve remarkable higher scores when they are given tests of mental functioning, Dr. Mark adds.
Today, many cereals, breads and pastas are enriched with thiamin and niacin, so that most people are getting enough of these vitamins. Niacin deficiencies have become extremely rare, especially in this country. But in older people or those who frequently drink alcohol, levels of thiamin can drop low enough to cause memory problems, says Dr. Mark.
The easiest way to make sure you get enough brain-boosting B vitamins is to eat foods that contain enriched grains. One cup of enriched spaghetti, for example, has 0.3 mg of thiamin, or 20% of the Daily Value (DV), and 2 mg of niacin, or 10% of the DV. Meat is also a good source for getting these nutrients. Three ounces of pork tenderloin, for example, provide 0.8 mg of thiamin, 53% of the DV, while 3 ounces of chicken breast deliver 12 mg or 60% of the DV for niacin.
As we get older, it’s not so easy to get additional amounts of vitamin B6 and B12, because it’s harder for the body to absorb them. After the age of 55, it’s common to be low in these vitamins, because the lining of the stomach is changing. When you get older, it’s a good idea to get more than the DV of both of these nutrients. Vitamin B6 is abundant in baked potatoes, bananas, chickpeas, and turkey. One baked potato provides 0.4 mg of vitamin B6, 20% of the DV. and one banana provide 0.7 mg or 35% of the DV. For vitamin B12, meat and shellfish are good choices.
Maintaining the flow to the brain In order to avoid memory problems there should be sufficient blood flow to the brain. When adequate blood flow is not maintained, the brain and memory begin to perform poorly. The lack of blood to the brain is often caused by the same problem that leads to heart disease and stroke: a buildup of cholesterol and fat in the arteries. This condition is not only preventable through diet, it is even at least partially reversible. The primary cause of cardiovascular disease – clogged arteries in the heart and the brain – is too much saturated fat in the diet. Keep your intake of saturated fat low by cooking with small amounts of liquid oils, such as olive or canola oil. instead of margarine or butter and by minimizing your intake of fatty foods, such as full-fat mayonnaise, rich desserts and fatty meats.
Getting plenty of fruits and vegetables is also important. Fruits and vegetables are packed with antioxidants, compounds that block the effects of harmful oxygen molecules called free radicals.This is important because when free radicals damage the harmful low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, it becomes stickier and more likely to stick to artery walls.
Studies have shown that antioxidants in fruits and vegetables can help prevent Alzheimer’s disease. In 2002, researchers studied nearly 5,500 people and found that those who ate diets rich in antioxidants, vitamin C and E, lowered their risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.Citrus fruits, kiwifruit, sprouts, broccoli, and cabbage are packed with vitamin C. While whole grains, nuts, milk and egg yolks contain vitamin E.
The combination of reducing fat in your diet and eating plenty of fruits and vegetables will help to keep your arteries clear, including those leading to your brain. In fact, it may even help restore blood flow through arteries that have already begun to close up.
Coffee can Improve Memory Function It’s not without reason that millions of Americans jump start their day with steaming cups of coffee. The caffeine in coffee has been shown to improve mental functioning, including memory.
In one study, Dutch researchers used a chemical to block short-term memory in 16 healthy people. They found that giving these people 250 milligrams of caffeine – about the amount of 3 cups of coffee – quickly restored their powers of recall. However,too much coffee can be bad, if only the java buzz wears off within 6 to 8 hrs. For some people, at least, the after-coffee slump can result in mental fogginess.
Everyone has different reactions to caffeine. For people who rarely drink coffee, having a cup or two can definitely improve performance and memory. But if you drink coffee throughout the day, you quickly build up tolerance and you won’t get the same benefits. In fact, too much caffeine can make you jittery and reduce your concentration.
Don’t kill your brain cells “Killing brain cells is not the best way to get a high score in the memory department. Yet that’s exactly what many of .us do to our grey matter every day. Alcohol is drinking too much alcohol can cause a significant decrease in memory function.” In fact, even small amounts of alcohol can damage cells in the brain responsible for memory.
Many doctors recommend abstaining from alcohol all together to keep your mind at its sharpest.At the very least, it’s a good idea to limit yourself to one or two drinks – meaning 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine or 11/2 ounces of liquor – a day. When you do drink, choose red wine. It contains resveratrol, a compound that may keep your brain young.
Optimal Diet for your Brain You can’t prevent Alzheimer’s disease and dementia altogether, but you can keep them at bay longer with a heart-healthy diet that focuses on the nutrients that have been found to be critical for brain function and aging.
Aim for a body mass index of 23 to 25 Being overweight increases your risk for diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and hypertension, which leads to vascular disease and brain damage.
Choose Dairy Eat one serving of low-fat, low-sugar dairy once a day, such as milk, plain yogurt, cottage cheese or ricotta cheese.Epideemiologie studies show that people who drink milk are less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease.
Toast to a young brain Drink one glass of red wine or 4 ounces of purple grape juice or pomegranate juice a day. They contain resveratrol, a compound that doctors believe activates a gene that is associated with longevity.
Buy berries When you eat one cup of berries a day, it gives your brain resveratrol, and other flavoniods, that strengthens your resistance against the development of chronic diseases associated with aging.
Drink some juice Drink 8 ounces of fruit juice high in vitamin C daily. Three times a week, substitute a glass of vegetable juice that you buy or make on your own for the fruit juice. Antioxidants and other compounds in those juices help protect the brain from dementia.
Include fish oil in your diet. Omega-3 fatty acids are powerful agents for a healthy heart and arteries. When you eat oily cold water fish such as sardines or mackerel you will ensure that you get enough omega-3. You can also substitute with 2,000 to 3,000 mg of fish oil or flaxseed oil per day.Walnuts are also rich in omega-3. Eating 8 to 10 walnuts per day or using walnut oil in your salads of dark green vegetables will help protect your brain.
Drink green tea every day. Green tea is rich in antioxidants and has proved to reduce the risk of dementia. Experts recommend drinking one to two cups a day.
Multivitamins To include those in your diet is particularly important for older, inactive adults who's calorie intake doesn’t supply the micro nutrients that they need. Choose a multivitamin without iron or reduced iron if yo ‘re not anemic or menstruating.
Consider supplementing with vitamin D Vitamin D is a new shining start in the role of brain development and function and many people are deficient without knowing it. We get about 95% of our vitamin D from sunlight, but young people who work long hours and elderly adults who are home bound often don’t get enough sunlight to fill their vitamin D requirements.
Avoid omega-6 fats The omega-6 fatty acids in corn- safflower- and sesame oils aren’t as healthy as omega-3’s found in olive and canola oil. So use those oils sparingly.
Nourish Your Brain An overall brain-healthy diet is low in refined carbohydrates, (Found in sugars, baked food, candy, and other sweets, for example), red meats and trans fats. It’s high in fatty fish, poultry, soy protein, fruits, vegetables and legumes.
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