Feed Your Brain

Feed Your Brain
A new study published in the Journal Neurology links Trans Fats to brain shrinkage. By now most of us know or should know that Trans Fats cause inflammation, hardening of the arteries, decrease heart rhythm and put one at risk for cardiovascular disease, in other words, heart attacks. In the past I have emphasized that being heart smart leads to preserving brain function – the two are linked. This is why I have always been a big fan of the Mediterranean diet.

The study also emphasized that people whose diets are rich in vitamins C, E, B and D, have larger brains than people with diets low in these nutrients; this means better cognitive function. Somehow these vitamins work together like a well-rehearsed orchestra, but so far no one can explain how and why these vitamins are so beneficial to the brain. Moreover, eating Omega 3 fatty acids has a beneficial effect on the smaller blood vessels of the brain which improve thinking and multi-tasking.

“We know in Alzheimer’s disease that total brain shrinkage is accelerated compared to people of the same age and same gender that don’t have Alzheimer’s disease,” said Dr. Gene Bowman, the lead investigator of the article from the dept. of neurology at the Oregon Health and Science University in Portland.

If you are not sure where Trans Fats are found:
  • Know that a Trans Fat is liquid oil which is solidified to give food a certain consistency and to extend its shelf life.
  • Partially hydrogenated oils – read the ingredients
  • Appears in processed foods like cakes, potato chips, some frozen foods and flaky pastries

And be careful about rushing out to buy vitamins. Taking too much can be toxic and have been shown to increase the risk of premature death. Discuss vitamins, minerals and supplements with your doctor who might want you to take a blood test to see if you are truly deficient.

Meanwhile, there is so little about Alzheimer’s we can control or really treat for long. The best route is prevention or delaying onset when possible. To this end you need to eat a balanced diet of lean proteins, including fish rich in Omega 3’s like salmon, beans, lentils, vegetables, fruits and complex carbs. People who eat fish at least twice a week lower their risk of Alzheimer’s according to food studies. Stick to natural, quality ingredients and avoid chemical additives and preservatives. Then make sure to get up and move. Exercise your body and you are exercising your heart and mind too.
For more information on caregiving read my book, Changing Habits: The Caregivers' Total Workout. To listen to archived radio shows with guest experts visit Turn On Your Inner Light Radio Show

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