Want to think sharper? Prevent your brain from shrinking? (Yeah, that happens.) Keep your brain from aging? You can’t exactly take your brain to the weight room, but you can feed this muscle a diet rich in vitamins B, D, and E, choline, and omega-3 fatty acids. That’s why making sure your diet is rich in the six foods on Oprah’s Great Brain Grocery List will not only feed your mind, but feed your body with plenty of essential nutrients.
While there’s no cure for Alzeheimer’s or dementia, often times we can do a lot to prevent these memory diseases from taking hold of our lives. New research finds that memory decline sets in as early as our mid-40s, according to O Magazine.
Click through to see which foods you need to start tossing in your cart.
Grow Some Fresh Brain Cells and Ward Off Alzheimer’s with Daily Exercise
High-Fat Diets Cause Brain Inflammation
Dr. Oz’s 2-Day Detox Diet in PEOPLE is More Proof He’s Sold Out
Not only can exercise improve your health, but an increasing body of research is finding that exercise benefits your memory. The advantages may be as diverse as reducing the risk of cancer, spurring the growth of new brain cells, and preventing Alzheimer’s.
In a study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in 2007, researchers found an improvement in participants’ blood flow to a memory-related brain area as well as increased scores on memory tests after a three-month-long workout program.
Another study, conducted at Cambridge University in 2010, showed that running stimulates the brain to grow new cells in the hippocampus, a part of the brain associated with memory. Mice were given rewards of sugar if they nudged a square to their left, and nothing if they nudged a square on their right. One group then had access to running wheels, and after their exercise they outperformed sedentary mice’s ability to pick the right square by nearly fifty percent. Tissue samples also showed that they had hundreds of thousands of new brain cells.
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Not sure they needed to do brain scans to prove that seeing images of sugary treats makes us want them. Never-the-less the scientists did and they showed just how much we love our desserts and what power they hold over us.
According to Linda Carroll at MSNBC.com, the researchers had women look at images of sugary treats like cookies, cupcakes, and cake while being scanned. The brain scans showed that the regions of the brain that deal with hunger and reward lit up. This study had very similar findings as a previous study involving cocaine addicts. When the addicts were shown images of drug needles the same portion of the brain lit up. Wow, sugar and cocaine pack some serious power in our bodies. All of these findings were discussed at the annual meeting of the Endocrine Society.
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Yet again it seems that mass media is not accurately portraying scientific research. This time the research is by Fernando Gomez-Pinilla, a professor of neurosurgery at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and a professor of integrative biology and physiology in the UCLA College of Letters and Science. The headlines are claiming that high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) damages memory or “makes you stupid“. Unfortunately, the study was not done with a control group on a regular diet, just rats eating HFCS and other rats eating HFCS with omega-3 fatty acids, so it is difficult to draw any solid conclusions from the research.
When trying to navigate a maze learned six weeks earlier, the rats that had only been eating HFCS “were slower, and their brains showed a decline in synaptic activity. Their brain cells had trouble signaling each other, disrupting the rats’ ability to think clearly and recall the route they’d learned six weeks earlier,” according to researcher Gomez-Pinilla. This could imply that:
- HFCS causes memory loss
- Or it could be interpreted that HFCS interferes with focus and attention span
- Or it could mean that omega-3 fatty acids counteract the harmful effects of HFCS
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Flitting about like a hummingbird, dancing around every thought, whim and compulsive urge is how many of us go about our day. With an extremely high level of external stimulation hitting us from all angles (the computer screen, cell phone beeps, television commercials, radio jingles, shimmering billboards, etc.), giving our brain a rest is getting harder and harder to do.
Some people just don’t take the time to sit quietly, and thoughtlessly yet mindfully examine their state of being. Many of us claim to be too busy, disinterested or skeptical of the benefits a little time out of mind can provide. But science continues to uncover the truth that sitting quietly, slowing our thoughts and relaxing our brain may do more for us than we think.
Meditation, from its rise in popularity in the late 1960’s to its revival among millions of modern peace seeking yogis, has proven beneficial on so many levels. It is not only physically relaxing, it also helps make us smarter and feel less stressed.
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