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Published on: June 7, 2014
by Ryann Diehl for The Evening Sun:
Worldwide, every 20 years it is projected that the number of people with dementia will double. With shocking statistics and growing prevalence, current research has started investigating the impact of diet on brain health. Studies indicate that diets high in saturated and trans fats inhibit memory, increase the risk of brain dysfunction and the onset of diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer’s.
The underlying cause seems to be the effect saturated and trans fats have on circulation and brain function, specifically the hippocampus, which is the part of the brain involved in memory. Did you know your brain only makes up about 2 percent of your body weight but requires about 20 percent of the body’s energy resources?
About a quarter of the blood pumped by your heart actually travels to your brain! To work properly your brain requires chemicals that come from the food you eat. High saturated fat diets clog arteries and increase blood pressure inhibiting blood flow to the brain. Without proper blood flow the brain cannot get the oxygen and nutrients it needs to function.
As research continually shows problems with saturated fats, it finds hope in Omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants. Increased intake of Omega-3 fatty acids is associated with proper brain development in infants, increased memory in adults, and decreased onset of mental decline in elderly. Antioxidants, which are plant chemicals, have been shown to protect brain cells and function. So, what’s on the menu for good brain health? A healthy heart equals a healthy brain.
First, make sure you are munching on veggies. Green leafy ones are the best. They are filled with antioxidants, vitamins and minerals your brain needs. Vegetables make a perfect snack or side. Give your family something new and incorporate them into their favorite casserole dish!
Delight in berries and cherries, especially the dark ones like blueberries and blackberries. They contain antioxidants that can help increase brain function. Add them to your oatmeal or smoothie. Berries and cherries also add a spark to salads.
Squeeze in Omega 3 fatty acids, such as DHA, a fatty acid found in salmon and other cold-water fish. It is the most abundant fatty acid in the brain. Salmon can be enjoyed baked or grilled with a simple teriyaki glaze.
Work in walnuts. They contain antioxidants and Omega-3s. Studies show they reduce inflammation and improve memory. Walnuts make a perfect snack or addition to oatmeal, yogurt, or salad. Walnuts can even be ground in a food processer to make spreadable, tasty nut butter — no other ingredients necessary.
Don’t forget to drink. Water is essential to brain function. Our bodies are about 60 percent water, which helps transport oxygen, nutrients, and medications throughout the body, and flushes waste products and toxins from the body. Carry a water bottle around, leave one on your desk, and pour a glass to enjoy at every meal.
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