By Lynn Difley
Since the days of Hippocrates folks have been looking for ways to improve their health through foods. While the popularity of this notion comes and goes with the times, the basic premise of paying attention to food intake with a mind to optimal value for health remains valid. Most of our current studies have established the power of a healthy diet to improve cardiovascular health and decrease the risks of cancer; diet also has a profound effect on the health of your gray matter.
Giving your brain the right kinds of foods can boost its endurance levels, thought processes, acuity and cognizance, as well as all over mental function. Isn’t it handy that experts tell us that what is good for the heart is also good for the head? If you follow the heart-health recommendations you help preserve cognitive skills while decreasing the risk for Alzheimer’s disease.
The brain depends on a vast network of blood vessels to provide adequate nutrient, energy and oxygen supply to its cells. Transportation of these supplies depends on the health of the cardiovascular system. The cardiovascular transportation system is critical to both the heart and the brain. Elevated cholesterol levels contribute to clogged arteries in both. Diets high in saturated fats, cholesterol and trans fats increase risk of arterial disease. Studies have also established a connection between brain health and vitamin B. Many health experts recommend taking a daily multi-vitamin tablet to cover all bases. Maintaining a healthy body weight is also just as crucial to the brain as it is to the heart. Excess weight increases risk of vascular disease, cognitive problems and dementia. A heart healthy diet, in addition to regular physical activity will promote weight loss and arterial health while decreasing the risk of cognitive decline.
The best way to protect the brain from degenerative disease is to reduce the damage of free radicals by consuming a diet rich in fruits and vegetables– the antioxidant supply house. A study on aging in Chicago found that eating 2.8 servings of vegetables per day (far less than the recommended minimum 6) slows the rate of mental decline by roughly 40% compared with eating less than one serving daily. Green leafy vegetables produce the strongest benefits–so Popeye was right!
While the consensus is that a multivitamin is a good way to get your necessary minimum quantity of vitamins and minerals, experts declare that the best source of antioxidants and vitamin E is your food. Consuming a variety of foods–trying to include a “rainbow” of color hues in the veggies you eat is superior to taking a pill. Consuming the vitamins in their natural form provides the broadest range of complementary nutrients, photochemical and oxidants to maximize brain health. The best place to find the source for maximal protection to your gray matter is in the produce section, and the best weapon for ultimate brainpower and heart health is your daily exercise practice.


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