"Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food"
I’m a HUGE proponent of using food as medicine; what we put in to our bodies has a major impact on how we feel and what we’re capable of accomplishing. So, it should come as no surprise, that the idea that certain foods or dietary additions could keep your mind sharp today and help to prevent diseases in the future GETS ME EXCITED.
For me, this is a topic that hits close to home: I have a family history of Alzheimer’s. I’ve seen the disease up close and personal and it SCARES THE CRAP OUT OF ME. But, history or no history, the stats are downright frightening:
According to the 2012 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures, women over age 65 have about a 1 in 5 chance of suffering from Alzheimer’s, while men of the same age have about a 1 in 10 chance (note: researchers believe the discrepancy is related to life expectancy, not to gender).
These risks are only expected to INCREASE OVER TIME.
Maybe a future risk of dementia or Alzheimer’s doesn't grab you, so let’s look a little shorter term and closer to home. In our fast-paced, tech-driven society, our ability to think, comprehend, reason, plan, and execute is what keeps most of us employed. YOUR BRAIN IS YOUR LIVELIHOOD. What could be more important than that?
There’s so much great info on this topic that I've decided to give you the goods in a five part series. Today’s topic: VITAMINS
Vitamins can be overwhelming – there are so many out there. I’m here to tell you what you need for brain health and how to get it naturally – no pills necessary!
Why you need it: Good ol’ vitamin E is an antioxidant. Antioxidants protect cells from free radicals, which are formed as the body converts food to energy. Vitamin E neutralizes the free radicals, protecting your cells.
Where you’ll find it: Nuts, seeds, vegetable oils, spinach, broccoli, mangoes, sweet potatoes
How much you need for a healthy brain*: 8 milligrams per day (think 1.5 ounces of almonds)
Why you need it: Folate is a key component of the folate cycle (go-figure!). A folate deficiency can lead to excess homocystein. High levels of homocystein have been linked to brain atrophy and Alzheimer’s.
Where you’ll find it: Peanuts, beans, lentils, leafy greens, corn, asparagus
How much you need*: 0.8 milligrams per day (think ½ cup cooked spinach)
Why you need it: Studies indicate B6 may improve memory and increase attention. It also regulates mood, prevents mental fatigue, helps the brain produce serotonin, and helps the body make hemoglobin, the part of your blood that carries energy-boosting oxygen to the brain and other organs. Vitamin B-6 may also improve your memory.
Where you’ll find it: Chickpeas, potatoes, fish, beef liver, and non-citrus fruits (like bananas)
How much you need*: 20 milligrams per day (multiple sources needed)
Why you need it: Similar to folate, B12 is a key component of the folate cycle and deficiencies cause excess homocysteine.
Where you’ll find it: Animal-derived (fish and shellfish, meat, poultry, eggs, milk, and milk products) and fermented foods
How much you need*: 0.5 milligrams per day (multiple sources needed)
*Quantities needed are only those identified as beneficial to brain health; additional may be required as recommended daily value
Stay tuned for parts 2 through 5 of this series on brain health! Until next week, feed your head!