5 brain-enhancing nutrients linked to longevity

Tthe foods we eat every day certainly play a role in our cognitive function. Have you ever slept past your alarm in college and been forced to sprint to take a grueling exam on an empty stomach? Not funny. But as we get older, the link between nutrition and brain health becomes more pronounced in more ways. First, because the brain naturally declines with age, our risk of cognitive decline and disorders (such as dementia and Alzheimer’s) increases as we age. This is why it is important to ensure that your meals incorporate brain-strengthening nutrients: They will help keep you sharp both today and in the long run.

“Medical professionals and physicians are more than familiar with the general – and natural – cognitive decline associated with aging, as the brain does not make new cells as we age,” says neuroscientist Sonja K. Billes, PhD, founder of August Scientific and member of the Science Advisory Team at Solaray. “Our brain cells, known as neurons, may not communicate as well later in life,” she adds. To make a reservation, this decline is completely natural for many – but it can still cause impaired neurological activity and response, which affects cognitive function, memory retention, concentration and focus, says Dr. Billes.

How nutrition and brain health are related

While there is not too much we can do to stop the natural decline in brain health due to age (which is due in part to free radical damage and oxidative stress, which are by-products that come with the aging process), we can take a show amount of legitimate preventative action by adjusting our daily routines – such as getting more sleep and dealing with stress – and eating more brain-friendly food on a consistent basis. These lifestyle changes have been shown to result in better cognitive function (as well as decreased inflammation, a happier state of existence, a healthier heart, and so on) as we get older.

“Fortunately, science has shown that we able to affect how our brain ages and functions through our lifestyle and nutrition, “says Dr. Billes.” Getting regular exercise and adequate sleep, as well as staying mentally active and eating food with the brain-boosting nutrients we need can help to optimize brain health and function as we age. “

While the brain is able to produce certain nutrients on its own to maintain and optimize function and to ensure that we are able to think, remember and communicate well in our daily lives, there are some brain-strengthening nutrients that our body need but can not supply on their own. These are what are known as essential nutrients and we need to get them from food sources.

Mens Dr. Billes says that eating a variety of nutrients is the best approach to promote cognitive health and prevent brain disease or decline as we get older, some nutrients are particularly powerful when it comes to their longevity and brain-enhancing benefits. Here are the “Big Five” brain-boosting nutrients, Dr. Billes, as a neuroscientist, recommends keeping our brains sharp as we get older.

Brain-boosting nutrients, according to a neurologist

1. Omega-3 fatty acids

“Omega-3 is the polyunsaturated fat that your brain needs most for optimal health and function during the aging process. This is because low levels of omega-3 have been linked to an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease, “says Dr. Billes.” They are found in fatty fish, nuts, seeds and certain plant oils, such as flaxseed oil. “

Fatty fish (such as salmon, anchovies, sardines, herring and mackerel) are the strongest source of omega-3 fatty acids, and it offers both DHA and EPA as two forms of omega-3, both of which are the most powerful types for boosting the brain. health and offer disease protection. Dr. Billes recommends eating fatty fish two to three times a week to keep your brain healthy and sharp. Walnuts, chia seeds, flax seeds all supply ALA, the plant source of omega-3. Algae oil is plant-based and has both DHA and EPA omega-3 (which are more bioavailable and potent sources than ALA), so try incorporating it into your diet if you are a plant-based eater.

You can also find omega-3 in olives and olive oil. “Using olive oil, which is high in omega-3s, instead of rapeseed oil, is an easy way to get more omega-3s in the diet,” says Dr. Billes. Drizzle it on salad greens and cereal bowls, or sauté a salmon fillet in olive oil with lemon zest and herbs for a super brain-friendly meal.

2. Electrolytes and B vitamins

Electrolytes and B vitamins are both important for maintaining healthy hydration and electrolyte levels in the brain and the rest of the body. “Neurons need small amounts of electrolytes, such as sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium, to function,” says Dr. Billes. “And B vitamins are important in the neurochemical synthesis of many neurotransmitters.”

When we are dehydrated, we tend to experience physical lethargy and muscle cramps, but we also have mental lethargy – think of brain fog and decreased focus and concentration. In addition to drinking enough water to keep your brain sharp, be sure to also consume plenty of food with both electrolytes and B vitamins to maintain an optimal balance in hydration levels for brain health. This is especially important after exercise or sweating, as you lose stocks and need to replenish afterwards. “The brain is made of about 80 percent water, followed by 11 percent fat and eight percent protein. This means that the brain can actually shrink in volume when you are dehydrated, and on the other hand, it will not work as well when we do not drink enough water, ”says Dr. Billes.

You can find both B vitamins and electrolytes in fresh fruits and vegetables, in nuts and seeds and certain dairy products such as cottage cheese. Avocados, eggs, brown rice, millet and nutritional yeast are a few other delicious ways to increase your B vitamin intake; Coconut water, bananas, pickles, olives and low-sugar sports drinks will all add electrolytes to your diet. And do not forget to drink plenty of water!

3. Antioxidants

Antioxidants are known to fight free radical damage and oxidative stress, both of which occur due to the aging process and can lead to higher levels of inflammation, chronic disease risk and cell damage in the brain, says Dr. Billes. The best way to get enough antioxidants in your diet is by eating a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. Fill up on these red, orange, yellow, white, green, blue and purple, whether they come from fresh or frozen sources. In addition to antioxidants, you harvest other essential nutrients (such as vitamins C, B, E, K, copper, magnesium, and so on) and fiber – all of which promote a healthy brain.

“All fruits and vegetables contain vitamins, minerals and fiber that support a healthy body as well as a sharp brain. Dark leafy vegetables and berries both stand out for their high levels of antioxidants and ability to counteract cell damage that occurs over time, as well as vitamins A, E and C and minerals like zinc and selenium, “says Dr. Billes. Fruits and vegetables also tend to have high water content – especially zucchini, tomatoes, watermelon, cucumbers and peppers – so you get antioxidants, nutrients, and hydration simultaneously.

Blueberries are a great option to use as toppings for Greek yogurt parfaits, oatmeal and salads, as well as for making chia pudding or homemade granola. You can also combine berries with leafy greens like spinach and kale in green smoothies or lively salads (just do not forget to add some protein and fat, like grilled salmon, avocado and olive oil).

4. Protein

Speaking of which. “Protein provides the essential amino acids that the brain needs to make neurotransmitters,” says Dr. Billies. Amino acids are therefore necessary for brain function and communication, she explains. “When you lack protein, your brain is also unable to work and communicate. In extreme cases, this can cause you to experience difficulty thinking and speaking clearly, as well as maintaining mental endurance and strength.”

Protein intake is thus emphasized with age, which is why our protein intake tends to increase as we get older. To make sure you get enough, keep a constant flow of high-protein foods like oily fish, chicken or turkey breast, eggs, Greek yogurt, soy products like tofu and soybeans, nuts and seeds, beans and lentils and whole grains in your daily routine. meals.

5. Choline

Choline is one of the best brain-enhancing nutrients. “Choline is an important nutrient for healthy brain function because it is a component in the synthesis of acetylcholine, an important neurotransmitter that supports memory and learning,” says Dr. Billes. Choline is also important for the production of phosphatidylcholine, which she explains is a phospholipid found in cell membranes that aids in healthy brain function. Choline is most readily available in nutrient-dense foods such as eggs, soybeans, fatty fish, liver, red potatoes and high-fiber quinoa.

Learn why a dietitian calls brain-boosting eggs “nature’s multivitamin” in this video:

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