Lifestyle and Nutrition Strategies to Train Our Brain as We Age

Train Our Brain
There are well over 42 million people worldwide who have Dementia, which is actually a symptom of Alzheimer’s disease; both are directly correlated with the health and integrity of the brain tissues. Alzheimer’s disease is a form of dementia that specifically affects the memory. This disease starts out with mild symptoms such as short-term memory loss, mood swings, and loss of motivation. It then progresses into decreased ability to self-care, the person typically isolates himself or herself socially and eventually the bodily functions are lost and this leads to death. The cause of this disease is somewhat unknown and the progression can be both fast and slow.

Research has shown those who suffer from obesity, hypertension, depression, inflammation or a traumatic head injury all have increased risk for developing this debilitating disease, related directly to the health of brain tissues. Being proactive and living a lifestyle that promotes a healthy and nourished brain is the best way to decrease one’s risk for developing Dementia and Alzheimer.

We have significant setbacks with our brains as we age due to altered connections amongst brain cells. Keeping the cells stimulated while optimizing the potential for the cellular reserves is what we must strive for. It is important to exercise our brains consistently even after the demands of formal school and a career are over. Just like any muscle the brain must be exercised to stay healthy and vibrant.

These activities will promote an active brain, healthy lifestyle and vitality:

Playing strategic card games, board games, memory games, reading regularly and crossword puzzles: are all great activities for keeping the brain cells active and preventing harmful alterations within brains cells. It is possible to generate new brain cells with regular “?brain exercises.”? Having time set aside daily to exercise your brain is the best way to ensure that you will generate new cells.

Commit to learning- adopt a new hobby: Such as painting, gardening, sewing, pottery, or woodworking. Learning something new and exciting stimulates the brain while also reducing risk for depression. Being curious and getting “?lost”? in something you love for hours helps balance our mood and the hormones, blood pressure and overall mental health. This is similar to how children play with toys, dolls, or outside. They let their imagination run wild without keeping track of time or forcing the activity.

Local theatrical plays, lectures, or even subscribe to a learning based podcast show are also great ways to be curious and commit to lifelong education.

Maintaining a regular fitness routine of gentle yoga, Pilates and meditation: Have shown many benefits specifically to Alzheimer’s disease and mental health. Mind and body activities like Yoga, Pilates and Meditation force a mental and physical concentration that is unlike any other exercise. Benefits include increased ability to concentrate, increased focus, mood stabilization, increased muscle tone, improved balance, better posture and bone density.

Pilates specifically focuses on the coordination of movement with breathing, increasing body awareness while promoting mental clarity. Joseph Pilates (founder of Pilates) believed that his specific exercises will heal the body both mentally and physically due to it’s ability to increase stamina, strength, coordination and range of motion, while leaving the body feeling energized and rejuvenated.

Nutrition and the Brain

The brain functions best when healthy fat is being used as a primary resource as opposed to processed or simple carbohydrates. Research on the brain and using healthy dietary fat sources is a growing topic in the field of improving brain function.

Negatively affect Brain Health

Fats that are beneficial to the overall brain cellular health are mostly plant based with the exception of some fish:

  • Cold Water Fatty Wild Fish such as salmon
  • Avocado

Nuts/Seeds

Choose Variety

  • Almonds
  • Brazil Nuts
  • Cashews
  • Hazelnuts
  • Peanuts
  • Macadamia Nut
  • Pecans
  • Pistachios
  • Pumpkin Seeds
  • Sesame Seeds
  • Sunflower Seeds
  • Walnuts

Fats & Oils

  • Almond Oil
  • Coconut Oil
  • Extra Virgin Olive
  • Flax Seed Oil
  • Hemp Seed Oil
  • Red Palm Oil
  • Sesame Oil

Nut Butters

  • Sunflower Butter
  • Almond Butter
  • Cashew Butter

These types of fats are anti-inflammatory and nourishing to the brain cells. As already mentioned inflammation adversely affects brain health in many ways. Sugar and processed carbohydrates decrease the ability to focus, concentrate and they are also inflammatory. Reducing sugar, and carbohydrates while adding in heart healthy fats, antioxidant rich vegetables and some fruits is the ideal nutrition plan for optimal brain health and function.

Coconut oil or Medium Chain Triglyceride (MCT) oil when added to a daily dietary regimen has been shown to boost the availability of healthy fats this must be done while strictly restricting processed carbohydrate consumption.

The Journal of American College of Nutrition has a study that correlates the Western diet with increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease, mainly due to excessive consumption of meat and unhealthy high fat foods. The western diet also has a dramatic decrease in the consumption of whole high fiber grains, vegetables, fruits, and legumes.
When Japan transitioned their traditional diet over to a more Western diet, their Alzheimer’s disease rates increased 6% over a 20-year period. Each person living in the United States has a 4% chance of developing Alzheimer’s disease due to high dietary supply of meats and dairy products.

Consuming at least half of their body weight in ounces of hydroxide water that promotes an optimal alkaline balance within the body will decrease inflammation by eliminating the excess acid in our body. Acid (H+) causes acidosis which causes inflammation. It will also improve energy, muscle recovery, and overall health and vitality. Being hydrating properly naturally rids the body of toxins, promotes regular bowel movements, and decreases risk for urinary tract infections, while transporting nutrients efficiently throughout the body.

Poor Sleep can Negatively affect Brain Health

Negatively affect Brain Health
The body’s repairs, rebuilds, and stabilizes when we sleep. If you are not getting at least 7 hours of quality sleep per night your brain is not repairing itself. Those who chronically do not get adequate sleep due to lifestyle and stress are putting their body in a constant state of inflammation. Not only is this affecting the brains ability to grow new cells, lack of sleep will disrupt metabolism causing weight gain, auto-immune disease, and/or thyroid conditions. Aim to get 7-9 hour of sleep daily between the hours of 10-6am are best. These hours are the closest to our natural body rhythm.

Tips for optimal sleep include:

  • Limit evening screen time (phone, tablet, television) to allow for melatonin production.
  • Supplement with magnesium daily
  • Meditation
  • Limit caffeine consumption to only before 12pm
Author

Author: Dr. Keith Kantor

Dr. Kantor has been an advocate of natural food and healthy living for 30 years. He is also on the Board of Directors for NAMI.org in Gwinnett. NAMI is the largest nonprofit in the United States dealing with Mental Illness including substance abuse. He has a Ph.D. in Nutritional Science. He has also written three books(see drkeithkantor.com and namedprogram.com ). Dr.Kantor has also been on several hundred Radio shows, T. V. shows, Newspapers, and Magazines, speaking on how to live a healthy lifestyle. You can connect with him on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter

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