We all strive for better memory, sharper focus, higher attention span and better concentration. We read books, we do crossword puzzles, we exercise, we aim to get the recommended amount of sleep every day, and we even meditate to relax our minds. We know we tend to lose mental sharpness as we age, making these activities high on our list. But, there’s something even more important that affects our brain health—NUTRITION.
Do you ever think about what you’re feeding your brain? It’s only one of the most important organs in the body. The kinds of food you consume directly affect how your brain functions. Too few calories may cause hunger pangs and distractibility. Too many calories may have us feeling lethargic and not able to concentrate. When we drink caffeinated coffee, what happens? We become more alert; oftentimes we may feel jittery if we have too much.
Some foods can be real brain drainers! Refined carbohydrates such as white bread or sugary soft drinks can cause insulin levels to spike, impairing the body’s ability to metabolize sugar. This can cause blood vessel damage and can quicken the aging process. A refined- and high-carb diet has also been linked to increased levels of beta-amyloid, a fibrous plaque that harms brain cells.1
So, do you think you have the right food in mind? When it comes to your brain, think less sugar, more antioxidants and healthy fats!
- Low-Glycemic Carbohydrates: The word glycemic refers to the levels of glucose in the blood. Glucose is the form of sugar that circulates in our blood, and is the brain’s primary source of fuel. So, we need it for brain function. Low-glycemic carbs help keep blood sugar levels normal. They are converted to glucose slower, so the pancreas isn’t overloaded. Substitute whole grains and vegetables for white bread, white rice, pastas and sugary fruits. When drinking fruit juices, water them down, or just drink water.
Unfortunately, the American diet usually includes too much sugar. With constant high glucose levels, over time, our cells can become less sensitive to insulin, causing the pancreas to make more. This high glucose/insulin combination may affect IQ levels, memory, and learning and general brain function.
- Healthy Fats: Consume fish that is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, like herring, wild-caught salmon and halibut. Omega-3s are also known as docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). This is a fatty acid that is found in the gray matter of the brain. Omega 3s, especially DHA, improve communication between the brain cells.
Avocados contain monounsaturated fat, a good fat, which contributes to healthy blood flow, thus a healthy heart and brain. Avocados also lower blood pressure, which may promote brain health as well.
Mannatech’s Omega-3 with Vitamin D3 capsules provide the essential fatty acids your body needs to maintain good health, especially brain health.*
Research conducted at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston found that consuming bad saturated fats may be associated with a decline in cognitive function and memory in older women. Women that consumed monounsaturated fats, such as olive oil, had better cognitive scores over time.2
- Antioxidants: These substances help get rid of free radicals. Free radicals are formed when glucose and oxygen are burned. The brain burns more glucose and oxygen than any other organ in the body, thus it produces a lot of free radicals which can destroy nerve cells. Antioxidants work to neutralize free radicals.
Mannatech’s Ambrotose® AO capsules combine plant extracts and antioxidant compounds with naturally sourced vitamins C and E for protection.* Just two capsules a day are clinically proven, through human serum ORAC testing, to provide over 2 ½ times more antioxidant protection than five servings of fruits and vegetables (Comparison of serum ORAC values obtained in two separate clinical studies funded by Mannatech.)
Any fruit and vegetable that is antioxidant rich is healthy for the brain. Berries and kale are very high in antioxidants. Blueberries and strawberries top the list. Walnuts contain high amounts of antioxidants, as do many other nuts.
Mannatech’s BounceBack® capsules are high in antioxidants. They provide over 420 mg of high-quality turmeric (standardized to 400 mg curcuminoids) per serving. Curcumin is a compound found in the curry-flavoring spice turmeric. Cloves, oregano, thyme, rosemary and cinnamon are also high in antioxidants. Cook with these spices and sprinkle them on your food for their brain-healthy benefits.
- Mannatech’s Glyconutrients: Glyconutrients, or polysaccharides, are fundamental sugars from nature the body needs at its most foundational level to maintain optimal wellness. They influence almost every aspect of our cellular processes. Mannatech’s Ambrotose® complex contains a blend of these plant-sourced polysaccharides. It was shown in placebo-controlled trials of healthy young adults, that Ambrotose consumption enhanced brain wave activities associated with alertness and language processing 30-60 minutes after intake.3 To read about this and other studies, go to mannatechscience.org.
- Green Tea: A Japanese study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that elders who drink green tea may have sharper minds than those that don’t. Drinking at least two cups of green tea daily was tied to the lowest risk of cognitive impairment.4
Mannatech’s MannaTea powder is an all-natural proprietary blend of water-extracted green and black tea that delivers a high level of polyphenol antioxidants. Water extraction is an environmentally friendly process that better preserves the antioxidant capacity of the tea. It provides antioxidant protection. It also helps reduce oxidative stress and promotes overall cellular health.
- Dark Chocolate: Studies have shown that flavanols found in dark chocolate may boost blood flow to the brain. Flavanols are powerful antioxidants. This sweet treat may be useful in enhancing brain function in people fighting fatigue, sleep deprivation, and even effects of aging.5
- Carrots: Carrots have high levels of luteolin, a plant compound that could reduce age-related memory deficits and inflammation in the brain. It helps by inhibiting the release of inflammatory molecules in the brain.6 Luteolin is also found in peppers, celery, olive oil, peppermint, rosemary and chamomile.
- Vitamin D: Two new studies in the Journals of Gerontology show that vitamin D may be a vital component for the cognitive health of women as they age. Very low levels of vitamin D were associated with higher odds of cognitive impairment.5
Combine healthy eating with brain calisthenics and you’ll be scoring high!
Challenging your mind helps create nerve cells. So, try doing things that are different from your normal routine. Try getting dressed with your eyes closed, eat with the opposite hand or take a new route to work. A fun exercise to do is called the hand switch. Instead of using your dominant hand to do tasks, switch hands. If you are right handed, try holding your computer mouse or your cell phone with your left hand.
Simple exercises, crossword puzzles, memory games, word matching, and reading, can give a big boost to the brain as well.
Nothing prevents the aging process, but there are many things you can do to stay sharp. Concentrate on eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fish. This alone may improve thinking, creativity, and memory while preventing long-term mental deterioration.
1The Better Brain Diet, Eat Right to Stay Sharp, by Lisa Marshall. Natural Awakenings. North Texas Edition. NA-NTX.com
2Bad Fats Are Brain-Busters. Natural Awakenings. North Texas Edition. NA-NTX.com
3Wang C, Szabo JS, Dykman RA. Effects of a carbohydrate supplement upon resting brain activity. Integr Physiol VBehav Sci 2004;39:126-38.
6Science Daily. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/02/070221101326.htm
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.