Save Your Brain—You Might Want It Later In Life!

Much research has been conducted into what brings on Alzheimer’s disease and dementia in some as age advances.  While there is no cure, there seems to be mounting evidence that the processes can be stopped, and even prevented, by certain lifestyle practices, especially dietary.

In order to function properly our brain needs a variety of micro-nutrients.  As we age the absence of these affects the way the body is able to maintain itself and preserve function.  Because of a variety of reasons, western dietary habits tend to focus on a few highly refined food items, such as animal products, refined grains and sugars.  As the years go by, the lack of vital micro-nutrients has a cumulative effect on many aspects of our body’s machinery—the brain included.

Simply by adding foods with the needed nutrients into the diet we can give our bodies amazing power to help themselves!  Foods that are high in the important anti-oxidants like the Omega-3 fatty acids vitamin E, important B vitamins and many other phytochemicals and trace minerals give our bodies what they are looking for!  Most markets these days carry ground seed mixes that include flax, or linseed, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seed, sesame seeds, etc.  A tablespoon of seed mix in a bowl of porridge oats, with some frozen blueberries or maybe a chopped up banana and maybe a apple, plum or other fruit, makes a wonderful way to start the day.  Nuts like walnuts or almonds are packed full of health giving nutrients and, along with dried and fresh fruit, make wonderful snacks!

There are many vegetables that are powerful ‘brain’ foods too!  The lowly cabbage, kale and spinach to name a few have tremendous life-sustaining qualities.  By adding 6 to 9 servings of fruits and vegetables to our diet each day, we not only protect our brain, but also protect ourselves form heart and blood vessel disease, cancer and a number of other health threats, as this kind of diet also strengthens our immune system!  Don’t forget to add in good whole grain products like pastas and breads, brown rice and oats.  The more of the wholesome stuff we pack into our diet, the more of the refined stuff that doesn’t do us as much good is crowded out.

While fish oil is also advanced as a source of important antioxidants like omega 3, remember the fish got it from what it ate, the original source was seaweed based! With the increasing pollution of the oceans, there is the issue of traces of mercury and other toxic substances in the fish based products that can offset the beneficial effects.  Even though some supplements advertise ‘mercury free’, in fact it is impossible to get all the mercury out, even by the most advanced methods.  There are antioxidant supplements that are taken directly from the plants of the sea that are largely free from these toxins.

Also remember alcohol kills brain cells, and wearing proper protective gear when doing things like riding a motorcycle, bicycle, or when playing sports can save the brain from serious damage as well. The brain does many things well, but crashing against the hard bone of the skull isn’t one of them.

Don’t forget to exercise, drink plenty of water and do interesting things to challenge your mind and keep it agile.  With a little creative thought and planning, our brains will still be there for us at the time of life we want to enjoy most!  

See also:

 http://www.hse.ie/eng/services/healthpromotion/