We all want to defy the aging process, whether it is combating wrinkles or keeping fit and trim, but what can you do to keep your brain health in peak condition as you age?
Nutritionist Sarah Flower from TIANA Fairtrade Organics outlines small, manageable lifestyle and dietary changes you can make today to improve your memory and cognitive health:
1. Take some ‘me’ time – Our lives are so hectic. We are juggling multiple tasks as well as the constant draw of social media and phones. Dr Chatterjee, author of 4 Pillars of Health and The Stress Solution, has made it his mission to encourage people to make time for ourselves. Taking 5-20 minutes out per day doesn’t sound very much but it can have huge health benefits, including improving brain health, combating depression and anxiety, reducing stress, increasing your sense of wellbeing, helping you concentrate and cope better with workload and pressure.
2. Get a good night’s sleep - When we were young, we could burn the candle at both ends and still be bright and perky the following day. As we age, we begin to realise that sleep is not only essential for general wellbeing, but is also something we actively crave. Sleep is crucial for good health. It is a time when our body resets, rebalances and repairs. It balances hormones such as the stress hormone cortisol. It regulates our blood sugars making us less likely to crave food and overeat. We also know that long-term sleep deprivation can cause irreparable damage to brain cells, not to mention low mood, so it is important to ensure you get at least eight hours of sleep to ensure you experience a full sleep cycle.
3. Train your brain and body – I use TIANA Advanced Formula Memory Oil® as it is specifically for the BRAIN. It contains Memory Activation Complex™ and natural brain boosting bioactive ingredients to activate memory and maintain cognitive ability. It contains Omega-3 DHA (including Choline, a vital ingredient in memory improvement and to support vegan diets). A tea spoon (5ml) contains 100% of the daily requirements of Vitamin D3 and Omega-3 DHA. For the body, I love using TIANA® High Strength 100% MCT Energy (https://www.tiana-coconut.com/product-info-tiana-mct) which contains 100% Pure MCTs (Medium Chain Triglycerides) and works as a fast acting energy source and boosts energy levels.
4. Keep active – We know the associations of being active with a healthy heart, bone density and maintaining a healthy weight, but did you know being physically active regularly as you age can also help to keep your brain in peak condition too. Studies show exercise can help with depression and anxiety but can also increase our cognitive function.
5. Choose foods for its nutrient content - We all know the importance of eating well, but do we really know the nutrient value of the foods we eat? A diet rich in nutrients sounds simple, but as our western diet is highly processed, it is quite easy to become low or deficient in key nutrients. For example, nutrients can also be depleted when we have high alcohol or caffeine consumption, displaced by some medications such as Antibiotics, antacids and contraceptive pill and can also be affected by our age and ill health. Cooking, such as boiling vegetables, can cause nutrients to leach out. Steaming or stir-frying which has less detrimental impact on the mineral and nutrient content of the food.
6. Balance your Omega – DHA has been shown to increase memory (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4364972/) which is why I love TIANA’s Advanced Formula Memory Oil®, made with vegan friendly Algae Chlorella. This oil is not only easy to take, it also contains the vital Omega 3 DHA, it also has turmerone and curcumin (great for inflammation, focus and concentration and has been shown to reduce amyloid plaques) as well as Coenzyme Q10, essential for heart health as well as energy, Alfa Lipoic Acid, for energy and prevents oxidative stress and Vitamin D3, which boosts the immune system, brain health, reduces blood pressure and can prevent inflammation. £18.75 for 150ml bottle which is a 30-day supply. If you are looking for added energy and fat burning properties, why not opt for the TIANA® 100% MCT Energy with Omega-3, another fantastic supplement made from high quality organic extra virgin1st pressed coconut oil; it contains the 4 essential fatty acids and is enriched with vegan Omega 3 ALA. A daily dose (15ml) of it contains 2g of Omega-3 which will help maintain normal cholesterol levels and improve overall health and wellbeing.
7. A healthy balanced diet will go a long way – Diet has a dramatic impact on how we function as well as our overall health. A diet rich in processed foods, sugars and refined carbohydrates causes insulin fluctuations, increases our toxic load and creates and inflamed body. This all has a negative impact on our brain health, and can impair our concentration levels, cognitive function, behaviour, and mood. Various studies have demonstrated that an intake of Trans or hydrogenated fats from processed foods were linked to poor performance and cognitive function. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4607029/) Opting for a diet of real food, packed with nutrients and antioxidants, whilst avoiding processed and sugary foods is the best way to maintain good health. Studies have shown a Mediterranean style diet, rich I healthy fats, nuts, seeds, vegetables and wholegrains can reduce your risk of mild cognitive impairment.
8. Ditch the sugar - Increased blood sugars, typically found in those with insulin resistance and T2 diabetes, can reduce brain health and is also associated with low mood and depression. A study of over 4000 people in 2017 (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28274718) found those with higher sugar in their diet (in this case was tested with sugary drinks), had lower total brain volumes and poorer memories compared to those on a low sugar diet. Some experts are now calling Alzheimers Type 3 diabetes due to its possible links to insulin resistance where the neurons in the brain stop responding to insulin, affecting our memory and learning abilities.
9. Cut the booze – We hear a lot about how drinking alcohol regularly increases our risk of heart disease, but did you know it can also impact your memory and brain health? Long-term, frequent drinking can damage the hippocampus, the area in the brain involved in the formations of our memory.
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