Diet & Nervous System

Diet & Nervous System

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    As with many parts of your body, your brain is subject to inflammation and oxidation, both of which can compromise functioning and contribute to aging. Emerging research suggests a diet rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory foods can help keep your brain healthy.

    Good food choices for brain health include fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Focusing on strongly flavored and darkly colored fruits and vegetables also enhances the health-promoting benefits. Add more dark green vegetables or orange fruits, along with vegetables like cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and onions and garlic. Healthy fats like oils and nuts can also keep your brain healthy.
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    A Dawn Marcus, Neurology, answered
    Eating vegetables improves your mind. Researchers at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago evaluated cognitive changes in 3718 adults 65 years old and older and followed for 6 years. They found that adults who typically ate more than 2 servings of a vegetable daily had a 40 percent reduction in the amount of mental deterioration over 6 years. This meant their minds looked like they were 5 years younger! All vegetables, except for legumes, slowed loss of intellectual functions. The greatest benefit, however, came from green leafy vegetables.
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    A Alan Gaby, Nutrition & Dietetics, answered

    Specific nutritional supplements can improve brain function in specific circumstances. For example, some people with dementia appear to have a decreased capacity to transport vitamin B12 from the bloodstream into the brain (J Orthomolec Psychiatry 1983;12:305-311). This defect can be overcome (with an improvement in the dementia) by giving intramuscular injections of vitamin B12 (although oral B12 is not effective in this situation).

    Iron deficiency is a relatively common cause of impaired brain function. Correction of iron deficiency has been reported to improve cognitive function in adolescent girls and young women, regardless of whether the deficiency was severe enough to cause anemia (Lancet 1996;348:992-996). However, iron can have adverse effects in people who are not deficient, so iron supplementation should be prescribed and monitored by a doctor.

    In a double-blind trial, supplementation with a multivitamin-multimineral preparation improved verbal learning and memory in schoolchildren, even children who were considered to be well nourished (Am J Clin Nutr 2007;86:1082-1-93).

    Other nutrients that may improve cognitive function or prevent age-related cognitive decline in selected cases include B vitamins, magnesium, and acetyl-L-carnitine (See Gaby AR. Nutritional Medicine, chapters 285 and 286. www.doctorgaby.com).

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    A Mehmet Oz, MD, Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease), answered
    1MinBetterHealth 029 BeKindToYourMind
    As people age, their memories tend to get foggy. In this video, Dr. Oz reveals the foods that are crucial to maintaining a good memory.



  • 3 Answers
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    Fruits and vegetables provide a two-in-one weapon against brain decline. First, they help with weight control: Low in calories and rich in nutrients, they fill you up and fight deficiency-fueled cravings. Second: They provide antioxidants and other key compounds that help protect the brain.

    Research confirms that seniors who eat more vegetables experience significantly less age-related cognitive decline. Researchers at Rush University collected dietary data from 3,718 adults, ages 65 and older, and administered memory tests over the course of six years. It turned out that those adults who ate more than four servings (that’s 2 cups) of vegetables daily had a 38 percent lower rate of mental deterioration than those who ate less than one serving (half a cup) of vegetables per day.

    These findings constitute yet more evidence of the protective power of produce, following on the heels of Harvard research which found that middle-aged women who ate the most leafy greens, cruciferous veggies or a combination of both boosted their odds of maintaining mental sharpness in later years. Specifically, the women who ate eight or more servings of vegetables per week, like spinach and broccoli, scored higher on cognitive tests than those who consumed just three servings. 

    Blueberries might help you outsmart Alzheimer’s. In the first major study on the effect of fruits and vegetables in reversing neural cell damage, researchers at the Neuroscience Laboratory at Tufts University found that blueberry-supplemented animal subjects exhibited improved brain- and motor-function coordination. 

    Fresh apples—the peel in particular—have some of the highest levels of quercetin (which is also found in onions, broccoli, kale, blueberries, cranberries and red grapes). Some of the most exciting studies of this flavonol suggest it may help fight Alzheimer’s disease by protecting brain cells against oxidative stress. In an animal study at Cornell University, quercetin proved more powerful than the antioxidant vitamin C in neutralizing the kind of neural damage done by free radicals. “Fresh apples have some of the highest levels of quercetin … and may be among the best food choices for fighting Alzheimer’s,” says study author and professor of Food Science and Technology, C.Y. Lee.

    Other elements of a brain-healthy diet include nuts, seeds, fatty fish and foods high in omega-3 fatty acids.

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    AMarjorie Nolan Cohn, Nutrition & Dietetics, answered on behalf of Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

    Nuts of all kinds are an excellent brain food.

    Walnuts are made up of 15 to 20 percent protein and contain linoleic (omega-6 fatty acids) and alpha-linoleic acids (omega-3 fatty acids), vitamin E and vitamin B6, making them an excellent source of nourishment for your nervous system.

    Cashews are an excellent source of magnesium, which can increase the diameter of blood vessels, reducing hypertension and providing a healthy blood flow.

    Almonds are rich in phenylalanine, which is associated with cognitive and neurological health. This chemical easily passes the blood-brain barrier and stimulates the brain to produce the natural pain-killing and mood-stabilizing hormones: adrenaline, noradrenaline and dopamine. There is some evidence to suggest that phenylalanine can assist in treating the debilitating symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.

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    AAARP answered
    Salmon and Supermarket

    For a sharp mind, go wild with fish. While fish is generally good for you, the metals that accumulate in farmed fish like tilapia may contribute to cognitive impairments. So when you're shopping, check that the fish is from the wild, not domestically raised, and stick with heart- and brain-healthy fish, such as salmon and sardines.

    Salmon and Supermarket
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    AAARP answered

    Replace the olive oil in your favorite vinaigrette with walnut oil. Walnut oil, which is chock-full of brain-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, cuts brain inflammation, a precursor to many cognitive problems. It also keeps oxygen-rich blood flowing to your brain by thinning the blood slightly.

    
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    AAARP answered

    Research shows that people who fast one day a week or month unlock a unique form of blood glucose that helps the brain more efficiently transmit information. Then break your fast with brain-healthy blueberries, walnuts and maybe a glass of red wine.

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    AAARP answered

    The active ingredient in Indian curry, turmeric, contains resveratrol, the same powerful antioxidant that makes red wine good for brain health. Eat curry once a week, or sprinkle it on salads, to protect brain cells from harmful free radicals.