25 avril 2012 3 25 /04 /avril /2012 05:58
Losing your memory or developing brain fog in your forties, fifties, sixties, or even seventies is not normal. It is a sign of trouble. Be smart and stop waiting for the problem to hit you in the head before you decide to do something about it. We’ve done tens of thousands of brain scans at my clinic it is clear from this brain imaging work that as we age, brain activity decreases across the whole surface of the brain. Our lifestyles can, however, make the brain age much more quickly than it needs to. Bad diets, chronic stress, health problems, a lack of sleep, too much alcohol and illegal drugs contribute to our brain’s early demise. Unfortunately, most people just accept a decline in cognitive functioning as normal aging. But this doesn’t have to be the case. We have discovered a group of older men and women who have beautiful-looking brains and it’s their lifestyles that mean their brains function healthily. There are many things you do to accelerate the brain’s ageing process. But there are many things you can do to decelerate this process, too. I know you can have a young-looking brain. By adopting healthy strategies, you can outsmart your genes, slow ageing so that you feel younger and more alert. Don’t let anyone tell you that calories don’t count. They absolutely do. Eat high-quality food, but not too much of it. Restricting calories not only helps you control weight, but it decreases the risk for heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and stroke. Even better, restricting calories triggers certain mechanisms in the body to increase the production of nerve growth factors, which are beneficial to the brain. Once you figure out how many calories are optimal for you to maintain your weight (or lose weight if needed), each of those calories needs to be jam-packed with nutrition. The average fifty-year-old woman needs 1,800 a day to maintain her weight, and the average fifty-year-old man needs 2,200 calories a day. Make sure you get plenty of filtered water every day. Having a filter on your drinking water taps at home and only drinking from phthalate and BPA-free water bottles is best. Proper hydration is a very important rule of good nutrition. Even slight dehydration increases the body’s stress hormones. Over time, increased levels of stress hormones are associated with memory problems and obesity. Make sure your water is clean: having a filter on your drinking water taps at home and only drinking from phthalate and BPA-free water bottles is best. The best antioxidant fruits and vegetables, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, include prunes, raisins, blueberries, blackberries, cranberries, strawberries, spinach, raspberries, Brussels sprouts, plums, broccoli, beets, avocados, oranges, red grapes, red bell peppers, cherries, and kiwis. Several studies have found that eating foods rich in antioxidants significantly reduces the risk of developing cognitive impairment. Blueberries are very high in antioxidants, which has earned them the nickname ‘brain berries’ among neuroscientists. Researchers have recently found out that eating blueberries, strawberries and acai berries help the aging microglia (think brooms that have gone soft and don’t work well anymore) perk up and clean up the bad brain debris that leads to aging. Wherever possible, eat organically grown fruit and veg as otherwise they can be reservoirs of brain-damaging chemicals from agricultural fertilizers. Lean protein provides the necessary building blocks for brain health, as it contains L-tyrosine, an amino acid that is important in creating brain neurotransmitters. Found in foods like meat, poultry, fish, and tofu, the amino acid also produces dopamine, epinephrine, and norepinephrine, which are critical for balancing mood and energy. Stress tends to deplete the neurotransmitter norepinephrine. Also found in protein is L-tryptophan, an amino acid building block for the brain’s feel good chemical, serotonin. L-tryptophan is found in meat, eggs, and milk. Increasing intake of L-tryptophan is very helpful for some people in stabilizing mood, improving mental clarity and sleep, and decreasing aggressiveness. Great sources of lean protein include fish, skinless chicken and lean beef (which should be hormone-free, antibiotic-free and free range), beans, raw nuts, high-protein grains and high-protein vegetables such as broccoli and spinach. Did you know that spinach is nearly 50 percent protein? I use it instead of lettuce on my sandwiches for a huge nutrition boost. It is especially important to eat lean protein at breakfast because it increases attention and focus, which we need for work or school. Conversely, eating carbohydrates boosts serotonin in the brain, which induces relaxation and that makes you want to sleep through your morning meetings. In the West, we have it backwards. We tend to eat high-carb cereal, pancakes, or bagels for breakfast and a big steak for dinner. Doing the opposite may be a smarter move for your brain. Ban sugar. Sugar is not your friend. It is so damaging to your brain and body that I call it anti-nutrition or toxic calories. Sugar increases inflammation in your body, increases erratic brain cell firing, and sends your blood sugar levels on a roller-coaster ride. The solid weight of the brain is 60 per cent fat, so any abnormalities in the body’s fat content can wreak havoc on the brain. The one hundred billion nerve cells in your brain need essential fatty acids to function. Focus your diet on healthy fats, especially those that contain omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in salmon, tuna, mackerel, avocados, walnuts, and green leafy vegetables. The two most-studied omega-3 fatty acids are eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). DHA makes up a large portion of the grey matter of the brain. The fat in your brain forms cell membranes and plays a vital role in how your cells function. Neurons are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids. EPA improves blood flow, which boosts overall brain function. Low levels of omega-3 fatty acids have been associated with depression, anxiety, obesity, ADHD, suicide, and an increased risk for Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. There is also scientific evidence that low levels of omega-3 fatty acids play a role in substance abuse. I would argue that overeating is a form of substance abuse. Research has also recently revealed that diets rich in omega-3 fatty acids may help to promote a healthy emotional balance and positive mood in later years, possibly because DHA is a main component of the brain’s synapses. A growing body of scientific evidence indicates that fish oil helps to ease symptoms of depression. One twenty-year study involving 3,317 men and women found that people with the highest consumption of EPA and DHA are less likely to have symptoms of depression. Aerobic exercise, coordination activities, and resistance training have all been found to benefit the brain. If you want a greater mood enhancer and a better brain booster from aerobic exercise, try interval training – 60-second bursts at go-for-broke intensity, such as running, followed by a few minutes of lower-intensity exertion, such as brisk walking. A 2006 study from researchers at the University of Guelph in Canada found that doing high-intensity burst training burns fat faster than continuous moderately intensive activities. I recommend adding resistance training to your workouts. Without proactive strength training, aging adults tend to lose muscle mass and strength. According to research done at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, individuals with weaker muscles appear to have a higher risk for Alzheimer’s disease and declines in cognitive function over time. Canadian researchers have also found that resistance training plays a role in preventing cognitive decline. Boost your brain with coordination activities such as dancing, tennis, or table tennis (which I consider to be the world’s best brain sport). In such sports games of skill, the aerobic activity spawns new brain cells while the coordination moves strengthen the connections between those new cells, so your brain can recruit them for other purposes such as thinking, learning, and remembering. In general, I recommend that all of us do some form of aerobic coordination activity at least four to five times a week for at least thirty minutes. Avoid excessive exercise, which can cause free radicals to attack our cells, damage our DNA and accelerate ageing. Other things to avoid our cigarettes, trans fats, excessive sun exposure, charred meats, pesticides, and inflammation. Vitamin D, sometimes called the sunshine vitamin, is best known for building bones and boosting the immune system. But it is also an essential vitamin for brain health, mood, memory, and your weight. While classified as a vitamin, it is a steroid hormone vital to health. Low levels of vitamin D have been associated with depression, autism and psychosis. Unfortunately, vitamin D deficiencies are becoming more and more common, in part because we are spending more time indoors and using more sunscreen. Vitamin D is so important to brain function that its receptors can be found throughout the brain. Vitamin D plays a critical role in many of the most basic cognitive functions, including learning and making memories. These are just some of the areas where vitamin D affects how well your brain works, according to a 2008 review that appeared in the respected FASEB Journal. The scientific community is waking up to the importance of vitamin D for optimal brain function. In the past few years, a number of studies have linked shortage of vitamin D with cognitive impairment in older men and women. One such study in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease found that vitamin D3, the active form of vitamin D, may stimulate the immune system to rid the brain of beta- amyloid, an abnormal protein that is believed to be a major cause of Alzheimer’s disease. Another study conducted in 2009 by a team at Tufts University in Boston looked at vitamin D level in more than a thousand elderly people over the age of 65 and its effect on cognitive function. Only 35 per cent of the participants had optimal vitamin D levels; the rest fell in the insufficient or deficient categories. The individuals with optimal levels of vitamin D (50 nmol/l or higher) performed better on tests of executive functions, such as reasoning, flexibility, and perceptual complexity. They also scored higher on attention and processing speed tests than their counterparts with suboptimal levels. The current recommended dose in the US for vitamin D is 400 IU daily, but most experts agree that this is well below the physiological needs of most individuals and instead suggest 2000 IU of vitamin D daily. Share this Article Found this article useful or interesting? Share it with others! Click here to share Printer Friendly Version This entry was written by Dr. Amen, posted on April 24, 2012 at 9:21 am, filed under Blog. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL. « How Does Exercise Improve Mental Health Post a Comment Your email is never shared. Required fields are marked * Name * Email * Website Comment I am not requesting medical advice Thank you for your input to Dr. Amen's blog. Please be aware when posting comments that all comments are subject to review. 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