Love your brain





We all worry about keeping our brains sharp and active, especially as we get older. It's really important we look after our brains, and here are some of the ways to do this:-

Exercise
Why this helps - exercise gets blood flowing to your brain, supplying your brain with nutrients so that it can function optimally.  Exercise also reduces stress (see below) and is thought to increase the formation of nerve cells in the hippocampus- the part of your brain which is involved in learning and memory. 

Keep your heart healthy
Why this helps - there is strong evidence linking brain health to heart health.  This is because where cardiovascular disease is evident, blood flow to the brain is restricted.   This leads to changes in the brain, which affects your cognitive ability.  It is even thought that restricted blood flow to the brain may be a possible trigger for Alzheimer's Disease. You can keep your heart healthy with exercise, diet and stress reduction (see below).  Also if you smoke take steps to stop- it's vital for your health you do. 


Eat a healthy diet
Why this helps - a diet rich in antioxidants protects the brain by neutralising  free radicals. These cause damage to all cells in the body, including brain cells.  As well as eating a variety of different fruits and vegetables you might want to include tumeric (good in curries!) as this protects your brain against inflammation.  
DHA, an omega 3 fatty acid is a major component of the brain, and ensures that the brain functions well. You can get DHA by including oily fish in your diet two or three times a week, or by eating flaxseeds if you are vegan or vegetarian.  
It is important to keep your brain supplied with nutrients.  The brain, although only 3% of the body in weight, uses up 20% of the body's energy.  It's therefore important to make sure that blood sugar levels are stable by eating regularly and eating slow release carbohydrates such as wholemeal bread, brown rice and wholemeal pasta.  Try to avoid sugar and caffeine, which can lead to glucose 'spikes' followed by dips.  Unrefined carbohydrates also reduce homocysteine levels-  when homocysteine levels are high, there is a possible link with Alzheimer's Disease.
Limit saturated fat and avoid transfats. These are the "bad fats" which lead to hardening of the arteries that supply the brain due to their effect on blood cholesterol.  However, monosaturated fats, such as those found in coconut oil and olive oil, are beneficial to the brain as they stabilise insulin. This ensures a steady supply of energy to the brain.  These fats are even linked to enhanced learning ability, and slowing of age related decline.

Reduce stress
Why this helps - stress has been linked with Alzheimer's disease.  Stress triggers the   release of cortisol which has a damaging effect on brain cells and brain conductivity.  Try yoga- yoga triggers the relaxation response in your body. Meditation has also been shown to increase grey matter in the regions of the brain associated with learning and memory.

Learn a language
Why this helps - Earlier this year results of research were published which suggest 'learning two or more languages helps protect your brain as you age even if you learn as an adult'  (2nd June 2014 Dr Thomas Bak): www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-27634990
There are a number of free resources on the internet to start you off- plus it will be very handy  on your travels! 

Be sociable 
Why this helps- studies show that sociable people have larger brains.  As our brains tend to shrink with age this may be worth bearing in mind- plus, having strong relationships also reduces stress. 

So love your brain! 
Janet x

Article Copyright © 2014 40plusandalliswell

1 comment:

  1. 3 Researches SHOW Why Coconut Oil Kills Belly Fat.

    This means that you literally burn fat by eating coconut fat (including coconut milk, coconut cream and coconut oil).

    These 3 studies from big medicinal magazines are sure to turn the conventional nutrition world upside down!

    ReplyDelete