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Eat Smart - Keep Your Brain Sharp!

Memory is as natural to us as breathing.  It is an ability we all have and yet rarely think of it.

Unless we think we may be losing that ability!
 
Everyone has annoying memory lapses, but worse is the anxiousness that comes with these lapses and probably the greatest fear is dementia.
People have come to expect as they age their ability to remember and recall information may deteriorate, but this is not necessarily true.  Occasional forgetfulness is natural, but with good diet and optimum nutrition your memory should remain sharp and focussed well into your nineties and beyond.
 
Memory loss is linked to an insufficient supply of nutrients to the brain.  Our blood carries all the necessary nutrients our brain needs to function properly and removes unwanted material too.  Although the brain is only about 2% of our total body weight it receives approximately 20% of the body’s blood supply.
 
Low Glycaemic Foods
 
Your brain runs on glucose, a simple form of sugar.  Brain cells can’t store energy and need glucose delivered steadily, and not in short bursts.  A low GI (Glycaemic Index) diet rich in wholefoods will help achieve this and work towards improving and maintaining clarity, focus and attention span.
 
Glucose from these foods is released slowly into the blood stream keeping your blood glucose levels evenly maintained.  Extreme swings in blood sugar levels affect brain function and memory, especially if this happens on a regular basis.
 
Essential Fats
 
Your brain is about 60% fat (dry weight) and needs good levels of Omega 3 and 6 Essential Fats to help you stay smart and healthy.
 
Fish has been acknowledged for many years as an exceptionally good food choice for supporting brain heath due to its high levels of Omega 3 Essential Fats.  These fats are found in abundance in oily fish, such as salmon, tuna, mackerel and trout.  However, the high temperatures involved in the canning process destroy these fats, so always choose fresh oily fish.
 
Tree nuts (such as almonds, cashews and hazelnuts) and seeds (including sesame, sunflower and pumpkin) and their oils are all good sources of Omega 6 Essential Fats.
 
Protective Antioxidants
 
Protective antioxidants also play a key role in cognitive function and memory.  A five-year study of 4500 people found that the group with carefully monitored levels of the antioxidants selenium, zinc, beta carotene and vitamins E and C had better decision-making skills, long term memory and overall cognitive function than those in the placebo group.  Oxidative damage to brain cells may impair mental clarity and the ability to retain and recall information.
 
Water
 
Don’t forget to drink enough water, especially after exercise.  Dehydration of your brain can cause serious problems with memory recall.  Research has found it takes only 2% dehydration to negatively affect your attention span and other cognitive behaviour!
 
Stress
 
Stress has also been linked to cognitive decline.  Try identifying any stressors you may have and consider ways to minimise these or seek advice to help with this.
 
Exercise helps reduce stress and is extremely effective in achieving good mental focus and alertness.  This can be especially beneficial when combining physical training with mindfulness practice.
Just 5 minutes aerobic exercise can have an anti-anxiety effect!
 
Exercise
 
Exercise stimulates the release of chemicals that support the health of existing brain cells and the growth of new ones.
 
The many benefits of exercise include a reduce risk of physical and cognitive decline.  Exercise increases the blood flow to the brain and helps optimise the delivery of oxygen and nutrients.
 
This is vital for clarity of thought and mental focus.  Exercise increases the biochemical process of respiration and energy which explains why we feel so good when exercising regularly. 
 
Eat Smart – Top Tips
 
Eat a diet rich in wholefoods, especially wholegrains, beans, pulses and fresh seasonal vegetables and salad ingredients. Eat regular meals and avoid snacking
  • Eat foods rich in essential fats, including oily fish, eggs, natural nuts and seeds (and seed oils), olives and avocado pear.
  • Brain cells are particularly vulnerable to free radical damage, so protect yourself from environmental toxins by eating foods rich in protective antioxidants such as seasonal fruits and berries, colourful salads and vegetables
  • Identify and address any ongoing stress
  • Get enough sleep – we sleep to restore brain chemicals and rest the body. Lack of sleep will affect clarity of thought, concentration and your attention span.
  • Maintain a regular exercise regime. Please speak to the Wellness Team who can advise on the exercise best suited for you
 
Avoid or Minimise
  • Fats from deep fried and processed foods
  • Refined foods made from white flour and sugar
  • Your caffeine and alcohol intake
  • Chemical food additives