By Guest Blogger: Nicole Printon
Aging is blamed for everything from fat gain, limited mobility, and joint pain, to lapses in memory. Jokingly we share, “it stinks getting old.” We can influence the quality of our lives as we age.
Research suggests cleaning up diets, exercising more, and engaging socially with other people can significantly improve brain function and the neuroplasticity of the brain (its ability to adapt and change).
Certain foods boost brain function and help fend off age-related diseases.
Here are a few ways to feed your brain:
-Dark leafy greens pack a powerful punch in keeping the brain youthful & healthy. A study from Rush University shows that people who eat a large salad every day of dark leafy greens have brains that look about 11 years younger on scans. They are packed with carotenoids, lutein, zeaxanthin, vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. These specific greens are rich in chlorophyll, which alkalinizes the blood, and fiber which keeps the colon healthy. Some good examples are lettuces, kale, mustard greens, cabbages, broccoli, and spinach.
-Carotenoids have been shown to help the brain fend off oxidative stress, which is a key driver of diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Carotenoids are only absorbed in your digestive tract when in the presence of fat. They are fat soluble nutrients. Other fat soluble nutrients like vitamins A, E, D, and K are also found in leafy greens. Fat soluble nutrients are particularly relevant to brain health, because the brain is made of fat.
-The healthiest fat to consume with dark leafy greens is extra virgin olive oil (EVOO). It’s a powerful anti-inflammatory food that should be ingested regularly. EVOO is rich in monounsaturated fats (the best fat for heart health) as well as phenolic compounds. Phenolic compounds have been shown to be as anti inflammatory as a low-dose of ibuprofen, without the negative side effects! EVOO also encourages processes in the brain that help it to clear itself of toxins…extra amazing! EVOO contains compounds known as polyphenols. These are antioxidants found in plants. Polyphenols protect the body’s tissues against oxidative stress and pathologies like cancers, coronary heart disease, and inflammation.
-Other food sources of polyphenols: Green and white tea, grapes, cocoa, berries, oranges, grapefruits, lemons, green vegetables, onions, red onions, red wine, grape skins, pistachios, peanuts, turmeric, and mustard.
-MCT Oil (or Medium Chain Triglyceride oil) is another healthy fat that promotes brain health. It can be added to salads, shakes, coffee, or used for cooking. MCT oil has been shown to improve memory & cognition.
Are you ready to eat your way to brain health?
Nicole Printon is passionate about all things health, fitness & nutrition. She has been active in the fitness industry for 24 years. As a Certified Personal Trainer, Group Fitness Instructor, and Certified Health Coach, she empowers people to find inner strength on their fitness journey. She has specialty certifications in Nutrient Timing, Sports Nutrition, and is currently pursuing a degree in the holistic practice of Nutrition Therapy. You can find her on Facebook, where she provides weekly lessons in cutting edge nutrition practices at facebook.com/nicoleprintonfitness. You can connect with her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Nicole resides in central New Jersey with her husband, 4 kids, and 3 cats.
“Genius Foods: Become Smarter, Happier, and More Productive While Protecting Your Brain for Life,” by Max Lugavere and Paul Grewal, M.D.