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Posts Tagged ‘blueberries’

Among the apprehensions of aging comes challenges and fears about warding off dementia. Alzheimer’s Disease (AD), a severe form of dementia, affects approximately 5.8 million Americans. Every 65 seconds, someone in the United States develops AD. Are there ways we can prevent or slow the ravages of this and lesser brain diseases? Research continues to find ways to combat cognitive concerns and their debilitating consequences. The following five guidelines may help keep memory intact longer.

  • Go nuts

Nuts may prevent or slow cognitive issues. Research substantiates benefits of walnuts, cashews, hazelnuts, peanuts, pecans, and almonds. They are high in healthy nutrients that help brain functions. Nuts contain polyphenols, tocopherols, and polyunsaturated fatty acids that can protect against the effects of aging including improved cognitive function. In addition to healthy fats, nuts are high in protein and fiber and provide excellent sources of vitamins E and B6. They also contain good amounts of magnesium and folate. Those who follow a healthy diet which includes nuts may improve memory and delay onset or progression of AD. Nuts will not replace other healthy foods and lifestyles, but they are a good substitute for less nutritious choices. Adding an ounce of nuts several times weekly can improve cognitive health.

Which dried fruits have the most calories? | Calorific dried fruit

  • Nix trans fats

Individuals who eat trans fats may increase their risk of AD by 50 percent to 75 percent. Trans fats occur when hydrogen is added to liquid oils to cause them to solidify. They are inexpensive to produce, give longevity to food, and provide a great taste and texture. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned use of trans fats in 2015 with some products receiving extensions. However, according to the FDA, labels can list zero when the amount of trans fats is under 0.5 grams. Even small servings add up. To help prevent dementia worldwide, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends eliminating trans fats in foods by 2023. The FDA identifies the following foods likely to have trans fats but unlikely to show on the label since they contain less than 0.5 grams: Crackers, cookies, cakes, frozen pies, and other baked goods; snack foods (such as microwave popcorn); frozen pizza; fast-foods; vegetable shortenings and some stick margarines; coffee creamer; and refrigerated dough products (such as biscuits and cinnamon rolls).

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  • Watch the waistline            

The body mass index (BMI), a long-rated standard for weight management especially obesity, can predict risks for numerous illnesses. However, BMI doesn’t discern between body fat and muscle content. Now researchers have found a link between waist circumference and health conditions including cognitive function. In a study of nearly 900,000 participants, aged 65 and over, those with a waist circumference equal to or greater than 35 inches for men and about 34 inches for women were more susceptible to dementia. Results of the study showed that both men and women were at increased risk, and individuals of normal weight with large waistlines are as susceptible to dementia as those with obesity.

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  • Jog your brain

Any exercise routine is better than none. It helps the body in several ways including changes in the brain that preserve brain structure and protect memory and thinking skills. Exercise increases the size of part of the brain (hippocampus) that protects verbal memory and learning. One study found that those who moved faster and farther on a two-minute walking test could think better than those who were less fit. Exercise also decreases inflammation which benefits brain cells. It promotes better nerve-fiber insulation and greater growth, and it improves vascular health. However, the caveat is, those who exercise may already have better lifestyles than couch-potatoes. Regardless, exercise is a win-win when it comes to positive brain health and activity.

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  • Berries, a berry good choice

Blueberries plus other fruits and vegetables help maintain function and retain memory in the aging brain. Therefore, eating more fruits and vegetables reduces risks of developing dementia. Blueberries, sometimes called “brain food,” have one of the highest antioxidant levels in the form of flavonoids. The anthocyanins in the flavonoid group seem the most responsible for beneficial health effects on aging neurons. Consumption of blueberries and strawberries may delay mental aging by as much as 2 ½ years. What’s not to like about this choice?

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Genetics, nutrition, level of physical activity, and exposure to health risks impact longevity. Whatever our lifespan, we want our brains to remain functional. These few guidelines may slow progression of memory loss and in some cases, may improve mental performance. The longer we retain brain functions, the greater our quality of life.

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Best Diets for 2017

The U S News and World Report recently published their annual assessment of the best 38 diets in 9 categories. For the past seven years, a panel of experts has selected the DASH diet as the best diet overall. The Mediterranean diet came in a close second while the MIND diet ranked third. What makes these diets healthy choices, and how do they differ?

DASH DIET (Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension)

The DASH diet, originally establish to reduce high blood pressure, is nutritionally sound and promotes heart health. This diet includes the following daily servings; 4-5 each of  vegetables and fruits, 6-8 grains, 2-3 dairy products, 6 or less of fish, lean meat, poultry (one ounce is considered a serving), 2-3 fats or oils.

The diet suggests 4-5 servings a week of nuts, seeds, and legumes and less than 5 servings per week of sweets. For heathy individuals, the diet recommends limiting sodium to 2,300 mg/day or less. The elderly or those with certain health issues should not exceed 1,500 mg of sodium/day.

MEDITERRANEAN DIET

The Mediterranean diet is nutritionally sound with diverse foods and flavors. It represents the typical foods eaten by those living in the region around the Mediterranean Sea. That population tends to live longer and have fewer incidents of cardiovascular disease and cancer than is common to most Americans.

This eating plan may help with weight loss, improve heart and brain health, and reduce risks of cancer and diabetes. The Mediterranean diet doesn’t recommend specific amounts of foods. However, a typical diet consists of 7-10 servings of vegetables and fruits daily, whole grains, low-fat dairy, fish (1-2 times per week) plus poultry and limited red meats. The diet avoids such foods as sausage, bacon, and other high-fat meats. This diet is  generous in nuts, and olive oil is used abundantly in place of other fats and oils.

MIND DIET (Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay)

The MIND diet blends the Mediterranean and DASH diets plus specific recommended  foods. The aim of this diet is to delay memory loss and prevent Alzheimer’s disease. It is categorized into 10 brain-healthy food groups and 5 unhealthy groups. Brain-healthy foods include green leafy vegetables, other vegetables, berries (blueberries/strawberries), nuts, beans (lentils, white beans, etc.), whole grains, fish, poultry, olive oil, and wine. Foods to avoid include red meat, butter/stick margarine, cheeses, pastries/sweets, and fried/fast foods.

Researchers found that those who strictly followed this diet lowered their risk of Alzheimer’s disease up to 53 percent. Even those who moderately followed the diet seemed to lower their risk by up to 35 percent.

BENEFITS

These three diets demonstrate that foods do make a difference in our mental capacity as well as our physical health. When followed faithfully, both the DASH and Mediterranean diets may delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. However, unlike the MIND diet which can help divert the disease with moderate following, the DASH and Mediterranean diets must be followed closely to affect memory or neurodegenerative disease. The DASH diet decreases risk of cardiovascular disease, especially as related to blood pressure. The Mediterranean has been shown to decrease risks of cancer. If memory, dementia, and Alzheimer’s are a specific concern, follow the MIND diet.

Our health is in our hands. While other factors influence wellbeing, diet is a major contributor in maintaining quality of life.

 

 

 

 

 

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