October 2, 2012

Eat Smart to Keep Your Brain Sharp!

Cleaning out the office the other day, I ran into all my stored issues of the Nutrition Action Newsletter, from the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). If you don’t already receive this, well- what are you waiting for? Seriously, I do not have any ties to the publication and I recommend it to pretty much everyone I meet. If they accepted any advertising I would consider asking them for a percentage of each subscription I turn over to them…

Well, I set out to organize the office and instead I spent two hours re-reading magazines I already read. Don’t you love when that happens? That’s probably why my office is in a continual state of disarray and piles.

Anyways, there are lots of crazy products, supplements, ect. out there that promote better brain and memory health. Don’t be fooled by scientific sounding names and actors in white lab coats. Focus Factor, Neurostin, Women’s One a Day with Gingko are more bogus than helpful. However, diet and exercise can be helpful in decreasing risk for memory loss, dementia, and/or Alzheimer’s.

Exercise: There’s that ‘E’ word again. Exercise has been shown to improve memory and increase the size of gray matter in the brain. Even more encouraging, studies show just walking most days of the week provides benefit. Aerobic exercise has been tested most often but it seems that even strength training can provide a benefit. However you prefer to move, it seems that once again exercise is key to a longer and healthier life.

Waist Size: Do you know your waist circumference? Abdominal adiposity seems to be linked more to risk of dementia than overall obesity is. That’s because abdominal fat contains a deep layer of tissue called visceral fat, an active organ that produces hormones that can cause higher insulin levels. Too much insulin in your blood likely leads to Type II diabetes. Some researchers have begun to label dementia as Type III diabetes. There is increasing evidence that people who don’t have diabetes, but have elevated insulin levels, are at a higher risk of cognitive decline. Keeping your weight, especially your waistline down, is one of the best things you can to in decreasing both diabetes and dementia risk.

Caffeine: Finally, a reason to drink more coffee! Several studies have reported less incidence of dementia and memory loss in those who consumed caffeine daily. Other studies have linked coffee drinking to reduced risk of Parkinson’s, diabetes and Alzheimer’s. Caffeine is anti-inflammatory and Alzheimer’s is a disease of inflammation in the brain.

Things that don’t seem to help as much? Vitamin E, B vitamins, and Beta-Carotene.

What have you heard regarding diet and dementia?


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Meet Alex Caspero

Alex Caspero is a Registered Dietitian, Plant-Based Chef and Yoga Instructor. She aims to cut through the nutrition noise by providing real-life, nourishing tips for body and mind. Learn more about Alex.

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