Antioxidants and Brain Health

Antioxidants and Brain Health

Diet: Brain Savers

Did Our Hunter-Gatherer Ancestors Have Less oxidative stress because of their diet? No Alzheimer's Disease allowed when the saber tooth is about to pounce.

Certainly our ancient ancestors did not have deadlines to worry about, or profit and loss reports, for example, but how do we know that just because of their diet, berry's right off the vine, for example, that they did not develop plaque?

Today's research might supply some answers to that question. Please read on.

"Some foods do more than supply basic nutrients. They maintain your body and mind in optimal condition and they fight disease, staving off common disorders of aging like memory loss and cardiovascular disease. Call them functional foods.

They are the hottest things in the food biz -- foods with the power of drugs. According to a report by the Institute of Food Technologists, functional foods so powerfully blur the traditional line between food and medicine that it's not even possible to accurately state the health claims without running afoul of drug regulations.

Nevertheless, scientists are almost daily identifying "bioactive food components that can reduce the risk of chronic disease, improve quality of life, and promote growth and development," according to an Expert Report released by IFT. "Science has clearly demonstrated additional dietary roles in reducing disease risk," and "food has a greater impact on health than previously known."

Antioxidants and Brain Health and Functional Foods

From Psychology Today.

"Some foods seem to have more functional power than others. Here's a list of foods that, ounce for ounce, are the new divas of the emerging science of functional foods.

Spinach. It provides antioxidant vitamins that fight off cell-damaging effects that accumulate with age. It also lowers levels of homocysteine, an amino acid that is a normal component of proteins but that in excess amounts is thought to increase the risk of heart disease by damaging blood vessels and predisposing to blood clots.

Green tea. It's loaded with antioxidants that stave off disease. It fights inflammation, which is thought to be a factor in heart disease. And it helps cells communicate with each other. The most recent evidence shows that it can reduce levels of sugar in the blood, preventing diabetes and one of its common complications, cataracts.

Curry. The real brain-saver is the spice that's commonly used in curry -- turmeric. It's a powerful antioxidant and it also has anti-inflammatory powers. A turmeric-rich diet is believed to be the reason why Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia occur far less frequently in India than in the Western world.

Blueberries. A rich source of particularly potent antioxidants known as anthocyanins. Studies show that a blueberry-rich diet preserves memory and motor functions and reverses age-related declines in balance and coordination. What's more, by affecting cell membranes, it generally improves the functioning of nerve cells.

Grapes. The antioxidant known as resveratrol is present in red or black grapes and is believed to be the explanation for the French Paradox -- the reason the French can eat cheese and other fatty foods and still have a low incidence of heart disease and stroke.

Oatmeal and barley. These fiber rich foods help the body maintain a steady supply of glucose, the sugar that is the brain's main fuel. They help you maintain mental energy. What's more, they actively combat cholesterol, supporting blood supply to your brain. And they may boost the production of one of the main brain chemicals involved in memory.

Salmon. Like other cold-water fish, salmon is rich in a type of fat (omega-3 fatty acid) that is believed to have multiple beneficial effects on the body. It lowers the risk of heart disease. And it is incorporated into the membrane of all nerve cells, keeping them supple and facilitating the transmission of all information.

Tomatoes. It's those antioxidants again, besides all that Vitamin C. Plus tomatoes contain lycopene, an antioxidant that may reduce the risk of prostate and other cancers. Cooking tomatoes may help release more lyocopene. And then there's ferulic acid, another antioxidant, which seems to boost the power of other antioxidants in reducing the effects of aging."

I have not been a great fan of tomatoes over my life, but I am going to start eating more of them since I want to preserve my prostate for posterity. The side effects of removing it are not pleasant.

And I can eat lots of oatmeal. No problem there, since Mom made me a fan of oatmeal as a little one. So it appears that brain health can be made safer by eating brainy foods, and maybe I should combine that with some technology reflecting recent research. Please see below.

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