How Fit Is Your Brain?

Did you know that what you eat can affect your everyday brain skills, like alertness, mental sharpness, and memory?  Along with a good night’s sleep and exercise, there’s no doubt that diet plays a major role in brain health.  In fact, research shows that certain foods may even help ward off Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.  The key to keeping brain cells healthy is to encourage good blood flow to the brain and prevent brain-damaging inflammation. So what should you be eating to keep your brain in tip-top shape?  Omega 3 fatty acids contain DHA and EPA, which are highly concentrated in the brain and are crucial for optimal brain function.  Fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, sardines and herring, are some of the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids. If you don’t eat fish, you can get omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil supplements.  Dark green leafy vegetables, such as spinach and kale are packed with antioxidants that can protect your brain from toxic free radicals, as well as vitamins B6, B12 and folate, which play a key role in healthy brain function. A deficiency in B vitamins has been linked to depression, impaired concentration and memory.   Research has shown that eating berries and cherries can also benefit the brain as we age. Berries contain high levels of antioxidants and may help prevent the inflammation that contributes to damaged neurons. Eggs yolks are one of the richest sources of choline, an essential nutrient which aids brain function by helping maintain the structure of brain cell membranes and is also a precursor to acetylcholine, an important neurotransmitter in the brain. Turmeric, a popular spice in India, contains the molecule curcumin that is believed to have a positive effects on health in general, inflammation and on the brain specifically. If you don’t use turmeric in cooking, it is available as a nutritional supplement.  Nuts and seeds are good sources of vitamin E, which has been shown to correspond with less cognitive decline as you get older. Coffee and tea contain caffeine which can boost brain power by enhancing memory, focus, and mood and has also shown to be protective of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.  They also contain antioxidants and promote healthy blood flow. Dark chocolate contains powerful antioxidants known as flavanols that have been shown to improve both mood and cognitive function.  The above mentioned foods are not just good for the brain, but are also heart healthy and good for your overall health and well-being.




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