May 162014
 

I want to be engaged, alive, excited about keeping memories, experience each moment with clarity and passion for a lucid, active long life.  Here are some tips to potentially keep your brain in working order.  These highlights are from the February 2014 Nutrition Action Healthletter, an excellent source of healthy lifestyle information.

  1. WATCH YOUR BLOOD PRESSURE and BLOOD sugar  – high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes takes a toll on the brain and is a risk factor for latter life cognitive impairment.
  2. LOSE WEIGHT –  a western diet of overeating and gaining excess pounds may cause high blood insulin  which research is leaning towards the possible decrease in cognitive abilities  as one ages.  Try the intermittent diet. Two days a week (ie. Tuesday and Wednesday) eat 250 grams of lean protein (ie.black beans, chick peas, skinless chicken), 3 servings of low fat dairy (yogurt, milk)  4 servings of low carb vegetables (ie brocolli , kale, spinach, peppers, tomatoes).  Intermittent fasting not only increases brain levels of protein that stimulate the growth of new brain cells and connection between them it also causes weight lose. The other five days cut out one habit ie.  cut out a dessert, an alcoholic beverage, cream sauce or white pasta or bread.
  3. GET MOVING – walk briskly, go to Zumba or aerobic classes, elevate your pulse so you are huffing and puffing when you are moving.  Try to create space on your calender for 4 times a week for a minimum of 30 to 60 minutes a day.  Exercise may expand brain volume and protect the cells that line blood vessels.
  4. USE YOUR NOGGIN – play suduco, bridge, read books that introduce new concepts of life, engage in social activities, develop your intellectual powers, care and connect. By doing this you are developing cognitive reserve for latter life.
  5. SLEEP – A study in mice show mice who sleep continuously  found that the brain cells expanded from 14 % to 23% , which may make it easier for toxic waste products to be flushed out of the brain. The transference to human has not been proven.  Try to have 6-8 hours a night.  It may produce positive effects for your brain a hormone called leptin is produced which helps in weight control.  Too early in the research to be conclusive.
  6. CAFFEINE – Caffiene may protect your brain against cognitive decline. A study showed drinking 4 to 5 cups of coffee like Maxwell House (500 milligrams a day) or two tall specialty house coffees ( ie Starbucks 520 milligrams) may be associated with memory preservation.  Too early in the research to be conclusive.
  7. VITAMIN  D – studies have shown that people with low blood levels of vitamin D have a greater risk of dementia.  Still in the evaluating stage.
  8. YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT – keeping a lid on your blood sugar and blood pressure. Eat a diet based on OmniHeart and Dash studies. It is rich in vegetables, fruits and fiber. Low in sugar carbs and saturated fats . . . . based on 2100 calories a day:
  • Veggies and fruit –  11 servings (ie. half cup blueberries, brocolli, kale, greens, carrots, beets, melons, or 1 fruits, (ie Granny Smith apples, banana)
  • grains  – 4 servings (ie.half cup brown pasta or high fiber cereal, 1 slice multigrain bread
  • Low fat dairy – 2 servings(ie.1 cup low fat milk or yogurt, 40g low fat cheese- feta, ricotta
  • Legumes and nuts- 2 servings (ie. half cup black beans or garbanzo,quarter  cup almonds, sunflower, pumpkin seeds, 120g tofu)
  • Poultry and fish- 120g (ie. salmon max 2 times a week, trout,mackerel ,baked chicken with no skin, shrimp max 1 time a week)
  • Oils and fats – 2 tbs (olive oil)
  • Desserts and sweets – 2 (small oatmeal cookie, high fiber granola bar- note: this would use up 1 serving of oil)
  • Wild card – 1 (one more of above )
Pick one or two behaviors from the list above and concentrate on modifying these behaviors over a 90 day period.  If you fall off the wagon, climb back on. Don’t waste energy or brain power in beating yourself up.
Three cheers for you and all you do to improve your smarts.  I wish you a Long and healthy life filled with happy memories and moment to moment sharpness.
Namaste (may the love and light in me salute the love and light in you).
Barb

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