by Anne Laing and Tim Bean

Brain health

A normal brain processes a thought in roughly one third of a second; unfortunately, the difference between acuity and senility is only a matter of milliseconds.

You can help safeguard against dementia, depression and other brain disorders. A healthy brain requires a diet high in regular, good-quality, low-fat protein; a large variety of vegetables; correct supplementation and an ongoing thirst for knowledge.

Don’t ever sabotage your business body and longevity by using the ‘too busy’ excuse. You can find the time to do anything if it matters to you.

Regular exercise keeps increased connectivity of neural networks in the brain younger – by facilitating cognitive tasks, such as planning, scheduling, dealing with ambiguity, working memory (RAM) and multi-tasking.

Art Kramer, Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience

Control your cholesterol and homocysteine

When plaque, caused by ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol, builds up in blood vessels, it hinders circulation to the brain, depriving it of essential nutrients. It doesn’t take much plaque to block a tiny blood vessel. One possible consequence: memory problems.

High homocysteine is a risk factor for Alzheimer’s. Get your levels checked regularly, and boost your diet with foods high in vitamins B2, B6, B12, zinc and vitamin B folate (its synthetic form is folic acid, which is found in supplements and fortified foods).

  • Excellent sources of folate include spinach, parsley, broccoli, beets, turnip, mustard greens, asparagus, romaine lettuce and lentils.
  • For vitamin B2, eat dairy, egg yolks and almonds.
  • For B6, eat bell peppers, kale and spinach.
  • For B12, eat calf’s liver (organic, free-range) and snapper.
  • Zinc is found in peanuts, lamb and wheat germ.

Double-check your pills

One side-effect of taking multiple drugs is an increase in memory lapses. Antidepressants, antianxiety drugs, antispasmodics, beta-blockers, chemotherapy, Parkinson’s medications, sleeping pills, ulcer medications, painkillers, antihistamines and even statins can affect your memory. As you age, drugs also tend to linger in your system, increasing the likelihood of troublesome interactions.

Per gram of tissue, our brain generates a large number of free radicals – more than any other organ in the body – which damage cells. Take antioxidants, such as vitamins C and E, to disarm free radicals and protect your cells.

Take at least one broad-spectrum multivitamin/mineral supplement every day to ensure all your brain cells have the necessary resources to help them replenish.

Fruits and vegetables improve memory

In studies on brain processes, including memorising words and mental arithmetic, the top performers are always those who consume the most vegetables and fruits, and the fewest processed foods.

Whenever you drink too much alcohol or skip a nutrient-rich meal, you are not only depleting your body but also starving your brain. It can take just a short time to see some of the effects: irritability, forgetfulness or food cravings.

Eat for your brain. Ask yourself, ‘What does my body need to function optimally?’ What is good for the body is always good for the brain!

Believe in your brain

Do you find yourself worrying about forgetfulness? Give it up! Anxiety about an occasionally wayward memory may actually make it worse later in life. Believing in the negative can be a self-fulfilling prophecy.