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Seven simple brain promoting nutritional tips

Seven Simple Brain Promoting Nutritional Tips Here is the seven step plan to get your diet under control and to use food as brain medicine. Given that your brain is about 80% water, the first rule of brain nutrition is adequate water to hydrate your brain. Even slight dehydration can raise stress hormones which can damage your brain over time. Drink at least 84 ounces of water a day. It is best to have your liquids unpolluted with artificial sweeteners, sugar, caffeine, or alcohol. Actually, caffeine is a diuretic and causes dehydration, which works against your brain’s need for water. However, you do not necessarily need to have all the water plain. As you’ll see in health spas, you can put pieces of fruit in water, such as lemons, limes or oranges in water jugs to get a hint of flavor. You can also use herbal, non-caffeinated tea bags, such as raspberry or strawberry flavored, and make unsweetened iced tea. Green tea is also good for brain function as it contains chemicals that enhance mental relaxation and alertness. Substantial research in animals and now in humans indicates that a calorie-restricted diet is helpful for brain and life longevity. Eating less helps you live longer. It controls weight; decreases risk for heart disease, cancer, and stroke from obesity (a major risk factor for all of these illnesses); and it triggers certain mechanisms in the body to increase the production of nerve growth factors, which are helpful to the brain. Researchers use the acronym CRON for calorie restriction with optimal nutrition so the other part of the story is to make these Even though I hate the idea of “eat less, live longer,” it is what research tells us to do and makes good sense. So, grudgingly, I strive to eat less than 1,800 calories a day and I recommend you do the same. Figure out how many calories you need to stay at your weight or even lose weight if that is your desire, and then go a little bit below it. I watch what I eat, know the calorie content of the food I put in my mouth, and even weigh portions when I am 3. Fish, Fish Oil, Good Fats and Bad Fats Fish as brain food? DHA, one form of omega-3 fatty acids found in fish, makes up a large portion of the gray matter of the brain. The fat in your brain forms cell membranes and plays a vital role in how our cells function. Neurons are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids. DHA is also found in high quantities in the retina, the light-sensitive part of the eye. Research in the last few years has revealed that diets rich in omega-3 fatty acids may help promote a healthy emotional balance and positive mood in later years, possibly because DHA is a main Given the recent data on the healthful effects of eating fish and omega-3-fatty acids, it is reasonable to increase the amount of fish in your diet or take a daily fish oil, omega-3-fatty acid supplement. If you do take a fish oil supplement, you need to ensure that it has been tested for contaminants and heavy metals and protected from oxidation during the processing so that it doesn’t get rancid. There are two main categories of fat — good fat (the unsaturated kind) and bad fat (the saturated kind). Saturated fats are molecules whose binding sites are literally saturated or filled with hydrogen molecules. They are stiff and contribute to hardening of the arteries and cholesterol plaques. Saturated fats are found in red meat, eggs, and dairy foods (like butter and milk). They do not spoil as easily as their healthier counterparts, the unsaturated fats. There are also fats that have been chemically altered by adding hydrogen to act like saturated fats called partially hydrogenated oils. The food industry uses them because they do not oxidize and get rancid, but you should stay away from them as they are more damaging than saturated fats and belong in a special category all their own known as The binding sites of unsaturated fats (mono- or poly-unsaturated) are not fully saturated by hydrogen, and are more flexible, which is why unsaturated fats melt at a lower temperature than saturated fats. These fats rot more easily when exposed to air, metabolize more easily, and lower blood cholesterol levels. Monounsaturated fats lower LDL cholesterol, the type of cholesterol which makes a major contribution to hardening your arteries. Monounsaturated fats also raise HDL cholesterol, which protect against cardiovascular disease. While polyunsaturated fats also provide the beneficial effect of lowering LDL cholesterol, they also lower HDL cholesterol, which is not good. The monounsaturated fats are therefore preferred over the polyunsaturated fats. Monounsaturated fats are found in avocados, nuts (such as almonds, cashews, and pistachio nuts), canola oil, olive oil, and peanut oil. Polyunsaturated fats are found in safflower oil, corn oil, and in some fish. The polyunsaturated fats found in salmon and mackerel, and the monounsaturated fats found in canola oil and soybean oil, are high in essential fatty acids (EFA) called omega-3
fatty acids. EFA cannot be made by the human body and therefore must be obtained from our diet (hence the name essential fatty acids). Omega-3-fatty acids are considered good fat because they are important components of our cells and cell membranes that are essential A number of studies have shown that dietary intake of antioxidants from fruits and vegetables significantly reduce the risk of developing cognitive impairment. The research was done because it was theorized that free radical formation plays a major role in the deterioration of the brain with age. When a cell converts oxygen into energy, tiny molecules called free radicals are made. When produced in normal amounts, free radicals work to rid the body of harmful toxins, thereby keeping it healthy. When produced in toxic amounts, free radicals damage the body’s cellular machinery, resulting in cell death and tissue damage. This process is called oxidative stress. Vitamin E, Vitamin C, and beta carotene inhibit the Good sources of vitamin C are tomatoes, fruits (especially citrus and kiwi), melon, raw cabbage, green leafy vegetables, peppers, sprouts, broccoli, and cabbage. Important sources of vitamin E are grains, nuts, milk, egg yolk, wheat germ, vegetable oils, and green Blueberries, also called brain berries, are an especially good source of antioxidants. A series of studies feeding blueberries to rats have examined the effects on learning new motor skills as well as protection against stroke. Rats fed blueberries showed better learning of new motor skills as they aged compared to their study counterparts. Rats fed a blueberry- enriched diet who were then given a stroke (in the name of science) lost only 17% of the neurons in their hippocampus compared to 42% neuron loss in rats not eating blueberries. Strawberries and spinach have also shown significant protective effects in these rat models, although not as strongly as blueberries. In addition, the rats receiving these antioxidant enriched diets all showed increased levels of vitamin E in their brains. "The exciting finding from this study is the potential reversal of some age-related impairment in both memory and motor coordination, especially with blueberry supplements," said Molly Wagster, Ph.D., a Health Scientist Administrator with the National Institutes of Aging. The Best Antioxidant Fruits and Vegetables 5. Balance Protein, Good Fats and Carbohydrates Given the weight issues in my family, I have read many of the diet programs popular in America. Some I like a lot, others make me a little crazy. The idea of eating protein and fat only, avoiding most grains, fruits and vegetables may be a quick way to lose weight, but it is not a healthy long-term way to eat for your body or your brain. The best thing in my mind about the Atkins Diet and its many clones is that they get rid of most of the simple sugars in our diets. Diets high in refined sugars, such as the low fat diets of the past, encourage diabetes, tiredness, and cognitive impairment. Yet, to imply that bacon is a health food and that oranges and carrots are as bad as cake seems silly. The more balanced diets, such as The Zone by Barry Sears,Sugarbusters by H. Leighton Steward and a group of Louisiana based physicians, the South Beach Diet by cardiologist Arthur Agatston, and Powerful Foods for Powerful Minds and Bodies by Rene Thomas make sense from a body and brain perspective. The main principle to take away from these programs is that balance is essential, especially balancing proteins, good fats, and good carbohydrates. Having protein at each meal helps to balance blood sugar levels; adding lean meat, eggs, cheese, soy, or nuts to a snack or meal limits the fast absorption of carbohydrates and prevents the brain fog that goes with eating simple carbohydrates, such donuts. At each meal or snack, try to get a balance of protein, high fiber carbohydrates, and fat. In 2000, I did a study with 5 ADD college students, including my own son, using The Zone diet plus high dose purified fish oil. Each teen stayed on this regimen for 5 months. We tracked their school performance and did before and after brain SPECT scans. All students performed better in school and all lost weight. In fact, one girl complained that she lost so much weight that her breasts were significantly smaller (breast tissue is primarily fat tissue). Their scans showed positive changes as well, calming overactive areas involved in mood control and enhancing the concentration centers of the brain. Diet and fish oil help to balance brain function. The nice thing about this approach is that there are no side effects as opposed to the compromises involved in using medication to help balance brain function, which sometimes is clearly needed, diet and fish oil have no down side! 6. Pick Your Top 24 Healthy Foods and Put Them in Your Diet Every Week In order for you to stick with a “brain healthy” calorie restricted nutritional plan you must have great choices. I am fond of the book Super Foods Rx by Steven Pratt and Kathy Matthews. It lists 14 top food groups that are healthy and reasonable in calories. I am going to add several other choices that are especially good for the brain. Choose between these 24 foods each week. They are healthy, low in calories, and help us reach the goals of consuming powerful antioxidants, lean protein, high fiber carbohydrates and good fat. The American Cancer Society recommends five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables a day. Mixing colors (eating from the rainbow) is a good way to think about healthy fruits and vegetables. Strive to eat red things (strawberries, raspberries, cherries, red peppers and tomatoes), yellow things (squash, yellow peppers, small portions of bananas and peaches), blue things (blueberries), purple things (plums), orange things (oranges, tangerines and yams), green things (peas, spinach and broccoli), etc. I love to snack; just like to munch on things to get through the day. When snacking it is helpful to balance carbohydrates, proteins and fats. One of my favorite low calorie snacks are dried fruits and vegetables. Not the kind of dried fruits and vegetables stocked in typical supermarkets that are filled with preservatives, but the kind that just have the dried fruit and veggies. A company called Just Tomatoes, from Walnut, California (www.justtomatoes.com) makes great products. They make dried peaches (my favorite), strawberries (second favorite), mangos, apples, cherries (fabulous), blackberries, blueberries (oh so good), persimmons and raspberries without anything added. They also make a product called Just Veggies that is a wonderfully sweet and crunchy snack of carrots, corn, peas, bell peppers and tomatoes. It tastes like an unusual, but wonderful tasting popcorn and is as guiltless a snack as you will ever find. When you have dried fruit or veggies, all carbohydrates, add some low fat string cheese or a few nuts to balance it out with protein and a little fat. Another snack I like is homemade lean beef or turkey jerky. It is much better than the store bought jerky that is usually filled with sugar and chemical preservatives. Click here to learn how to make Homemade Turkey Jerky. Other snacks include:  Deviled eggs with hummus, slice the eggs, discard the yolks and fill with 1 tablespoon hummus, add paprika to taste.  Low fat cottage cheese with fruit and a couple of almonds or two macadamia  Ham and apple roll up with a macadamia nut or 3 almonds  1 ounce of string cheese and a half cup of grapes From Barry Sears website www.drsears.com: you can create an infinite number of healthy brain snacks by mixing one item from each group.  1 oz. part-skim or “lite” mozzarella  2 1/2 oz. part-skim or “lite” ricotta cheese  1 oz. sliced meats (turkey, ham, etc.)  1 oz. low-fat, part-skim, or “soft” cheese  1-2 Akmak or other whole grain fat free crackers

Source: http://www.rossschool.k12.ca.us/cms/lib07/CA01001069/Centricity/Domain/117/Seven_Simple_Brain_Promoting_Nutritional_Tips.pdf

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