Thursday, January 23, 2014

Healthy Aging with Brain Superfoods

Part of healthy aging that many of us are concerned about is brain health. I know seniors who are very sharp mentally, stay active and enjoy their senior years. Then I know those who have dementia or Alzheimer's. The first group is the one I definitely want to be in as I age. To ensure that I stay in that group, I strive to add brain superfoods in my healthy aging plan. After all, good nutrition is a key ingredient in healthy aging. That includes the types of foods we eat and the amounts we eat. Food is where we get our energy and nutrients for a healthy body that works at its peak. A brain that is not properly nourished cannot stay sharp.

Among the brain superfoods for healthy aging are whole grains for fiber, fruits and vegetables for antioxidants, lean protein, and essential fatty acids for healthy brain function. As we age it is also better to eat smaller meals more often throughout the day than to continue the 3 meal habit of breakfast, lunch and dinner. This is because of changes in hormone levels and our metabolism slowing down as we age. Eating smaller meals throughout the day helps keep the metabolism stable. Be sure however to start the day off with a good healthy breakfast, then move to the smaller meals or snacks throughout the rest of the day. Numerous studies show that those who eat a healthy, well balanced breakfast in the morning have better energy and concentration throughout the day, as well as improved short-term memory and attention.

Fight Off Free Radicals
Antioxidants in the diet are especially important in healthy aging. Our bodies' 75 trillion cells are under constant attack by unstable molecules called free radicals. Some of these free radical molecules are the result of natural processes in the body, while others come from the daily stresses of life, including air pollutants, smoking, alcohol, over-exertion, heavy exercise, and poor diets. As your 75 trillion cells are constantly attacked by free radicals, the result is aging. Specifically, free radicals can react with your cells' DNA and RNA, the blueprints by which your cells duplicate themselves. This can result in heart disease, chronic pain, and other ailments related to aging. Antioxidants are the body's protection from free radical damage because they not only stabilize the unstable free radical molecules, but also help with cellular repair, if and when your DNA is damaged. Foods high in antioxidants include bright colorful vegetables and fruits like tomatoes, blueberries, carrots, and leafy greens. The antioxidant vitamin E, from foods such as nuts and seeds, has been shown to help maintain cognitive abilities as we age and the antioxidant properties in dark chocolate has been found to help with mental focus.

Fuel Your Brain
Glucose the body makes from carbohydrates and sugars you eat, are one of the main fuel sources for the brain. The best brain superfoods to get your brain the glucose it needs are whole grains high in fiber, dairy foods and fruit. Foods with omega-3 fatty acids are another of the brain superfoods. Studies show people with diets rich in omega-3 have a lower risk of stroke, reduced chance of developing dementia, and maintain sharper mental faculties and memory functions as they age. In fact 60% of your brain is fat of the fatty acids type that form the cell membranes that cover neurons and other cell organs. These fats are also the main ingredient in your synapses and dendrites, which are the connections between your neurons. In other words, these fats form the parts of your brain that allow you to think making foods rich in fatty acids like omega-3 so important to include in your brain superfoods diet. Foods high in omega-3s include coldwater fish like cod, mackerel, salmon, tuna, herring and lake trout, fresh fruit, dark-green leafy greens, AFA blue-green algae, seeds and nuts, and flax and olive oil.

Keep Blood Flowing to the Brain
Nutrients and oxygen are carried to your various body organs through the blood. If you have a diminished blood flow the heart and brain are especially affected. Including whole grains and monounsaturated fats in your diet can help reduce buildup of plaque, support healthy blood circulation, and keep blood cholesterol and blood sugar levels stable. Peanut butter, avocados, nuts, olives and oils such as olive oil, sunflower oil, grapeseed oil, and canola oil are all brain superfoods with monounsaturated fats.

Supplement Your Brain
AFA bluegreen algae is loaded with omega-3 to support brain health. This supplement that has organic wild bluegreen algae, eleuthero, Ginkgo biloba, Lion's Mane, bee pollen, wheatgrass juice, and noni was created especially for high-performance athletes and those with active lifestyles who depend on concentration and mental clarity. The blue green algae is a good source of whole food nutrition, bee pollen is reported to have a high amino acid content useful for stimulating memory and concentration, wheatgrass juice has been found to provide nutrients that support brain health and clearer thinking, and Gingko biloba has been used for a long time to promote increased memory and mental concentration by increasing circulation and providing increased oxygenation of brain cells. With all these combined, you can see how this combination is perfect for the support of brain health in healthy aging.

Another bluegreen algae supplement that supports brain health, regeneration and mental clarity is one that also combines the power of three mushrooms, Lion's Mane, agarikon, and cordyceps, along with standardized American ginseng (Cereboost®), and resveratrol. Cereboost®, Standardized American Ginseng, has long been used in improving cognitive function, preventing fatigue and increasing energy. Resveratrol is a polyphenol with antioxidant properties found in the skin of red grapes, some berries like blueberries, some Chinese herbs, cocoa and peanuts and has been found helpful in increasing blood flow to the brain. Lion's Mane, a mushroom that has been called "nature's nutrient for the neurons" due to NGF (nerve growth factor) being found in it, has been found to have benefits for age related memory function and mental clarity. Agarikon, a rare polypore or tree-based conk mushroom commonly found in the old growth forests of Oregon and Washington, has also shown benefits with age related memory function. Cordyceps mushrooms are rich in proteins, plant sterols, polysaccharides, antioxidants, and nucleoside derivatives for a variety of benefits for brain health.

If you are concerned about your mental faculties and brain health as you age, consider adding some of these brain superfoods to your healthy aging plan. They can help make the difference in what mental state you will manifest as you reach your senior years. Personally, I want to enter my senior years with as much brain function as possible. How about you?

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Sources:
http://www.webmd.com/add-adhd/slideshow-brain-foods-that-help-you-concentrate?ecd=wnl_lbt_091813&ctr=wnl-lbt-091813_ld-stry&mb=Xenvmz6dAtHtkRjp7Is6CeHnVev1imbCfXusP2Lh3sM%3d

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