Foods for Your Brain


ORLANDO, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — One in ten people aged 65 or older has Alzheimer’s disease. Many more suffer from confusion and forgetfulness. So how can you lower your chances of developing memory problems as you age? But what you eat could make the difference.

The average adult forgets three things a day. What do you struggle to remember?

What you put in your body could help improve your memory. In a study out of Temple University, mice that ate a diet rich in olive oil performed better on memory tests after nine months. They also had lower levels of amyloid plaques, a marker of Alzheimer’s, in their brains. Another food to consider: bone broth. This stock is loaded with collagen, a building block for the brain. It also contains glycine, which has been shown to improve sleep and memory. Spinach and beets have high levels of nitrates, which help increase blood flow to the brain and improve mental performance.

Georgetown University researchers found a compound in red wine may help slow Alzheimer’s. People who were given resveratrol for a year saw a 50 percent reduction in amounts of a molecule that’s harmful to the brain at high levels. The spice turmeric contains an ingredient called curcumin, which can boost the process that creates new brain cells. And in one Italian study, women who ate cocoa or dark chocolate after a night of total sleep deprivation were able to offset the cognitive impairment that usually occurs. So if you want a healthy brain, eat up!

In one British study, participants reported on the things they most often forget. The top three: making a cup of hot coffee or tea and letting it go cold, where they put their keys, and what they went shopping for.

Contributors to this news report include: Julie Marks, Producer; Roque Correa, Editor. 

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REPORT #2455

BACKGROUND: There are currently an estimated 5.3 million Americans age 65 and older living with Alzheimer’s. Statistics show that two-thirds of Americans with Alzheimer’s are women, and African-Americans are about twice as likely to develop the disease. Alzheimer’s is a type of dementia where people suffer with memory loss and confusion. It is a progressive disease, where dementia symptoms gradually worsen over a number of years. In Alzheimer’s early stages, memory loss is mild, but with late-stage Alzheimer’s, individuals lose the ability to carry on a conversation and respond to their environment. It is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. Those with Alzheimer’s live an average of eight years after their symptoms become noticeable to others, but survival can range from four to 20 years, depending on age and other health conditions. Alzheimer’s accounts for 60 to 80 percent of dementia cases and the greatest known risk factor is increasing age. However, approximately 200,000 individuals under the age of 65 develop early-onset Alzheimer’s.

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NUTRITION AND MEMORY LOSS: A healthy diet improves our heart health, lowers our risk for cancer, diabetes, and other diseases, and keeps our minds healthy. The brain requires healthy fats, fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and adequate vitamins and minerals. Consuming too little of these foods and too many complex carbohydrates, processed foods and sugar stimulates the production of toxins in the body. Those toxins lead to inflammation, the build-up of plaques in the brain and, as a result, impaired cognitive function. One problem that causes memory loss is the deadening and lack of communication between brain cells.  As people age, their brain cells don’t talk to each other as much and this makes it difficult to process thoughts and retain short-term memories.  A diet rich in antioxidants can help minimize oxidation and inflammation and improve the communication between the brain cells.

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NEW ADVANCES FOR ALZHEIMER’S: Researchers at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago recently performed studies on a diet plan they developed called the MIND diet, which shows promises of reducing the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease by as much as 53 percent. Even those who didn’t stick to the diet perfectly but followed it “moderately well” reduced their risk by about a third. Diet appears to be just one of “many factors that play into who gets the disease,” said nutritional epidemiologist Martha Clare Morris, PhD, the lead author of the MIND diet study. Other factors that play a role are genetics, smoking, exercise and education. The study looked at more than 900 people between the ages of 58 and 98 who filled out food questionnaires and underwent repeated neurological testing. The results of those participants whose diets closely followed the MIND recommendations, which include foods like green, leafy vegetables, nuts, berries, beans and whole grains, had a level of cognitive function to the equivalent of a person 7.5 years younger. Florida researchers at the USF Health Byrd Alzheimer’s Institute, are looking into whether coconut oil might be of benefit against Alzheimer’s. It shows that ketone bodies, an alternative fuel for your brain that your body makes when digesting coconut oil, might offer profound benefits in the fight against Alzheimer’s.

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