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Brain Power Foods!
Do you have trouble recalling names or lists, staying focused, or remembering exactly why you walked into a room? Your cognitive function is a reflection of your veggie intake!
A recent study found that women in their 60s who habitually ate more cruciferous and green leafy vegetables than other women went on to show less overall decline on a bundle of tests measuring memory, verbal ability and attention when they were in their 70s.
Such foods include broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussel sprouts, kale, romaine lettuce and spinach. The contrasts appeared between those who ate about eight servings versus three servings of green leafy vegetables a week, and those who ate about five servings versus two servings of cruciferous vegetables a week.
We encourage patients, no matter which diet he or she is on, to eat green leafy vegetables and cruciferous vegetables everyday! One of the benefits to our brains is the high level of anti-oxidants which help to protect the brain from oxidative damage caused by free radicals- highly reactive molecules that attack and damage cell membranes, protein and even our genetic code- and in doing so bring about age and disease. The primary weapons in this ongoing fight are vitamins C and E, carotenoids and the mineral selenium. Carotenoids are found in dark orange and dark green leafy vegetable, such as carrots, sweet potatoes, kale and spinach. Vitamin C is found in citrus fruits and vegetable like broccoli and peppers. Vitamin E is found in seeds and nuts as well as soybeans and vegetable oils. Selenium is present in seafood, grains and Brazil nuts. These should be a standard part of your diet.
We also recommend regular intake of Omega-3 fatty acids. The same ones which promote heart health also strengthen the brain. The brain cells are largely composed of fat, and the right kinds of dietary fat are critical to maintaining brain function by promoting communication between cells. Primary sources of Omega-3 fatty acids are fatty, cold-water fish including salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardines, herring and Atlantic sturgeon. Canola, olive and flax-seed oil are good plant sources of Omega-3 fatty acids, with flax seeds, which can also be ground and added to foods are also a good source.
"B" for Brain Power!
One of the most beneficial vitamins a person can be sure he or she gets enough of is B. Most vitamins (except for vitamins A, D, E, and K) as well as minerals are water soluble. If your body doesn't use the vitamin in that day you will urinate it out. Thus, it is vital to get enough Vitamin B everyday! Let's take a look at the benefits of Vitamin B on mental health.
B vitamins are needed for normal brain and nerve function including synthesis of all brain chemicals, or neurotransmitters, such as serotonin (from tryptophan), taurine, dopamine, norepimephrine, histamine, and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). They also play a key role in protecting us from free radical damage, enhancing memory, and insulating nerve cells. If adequate amounts of B are not maintained, your nervous system will fail to function properly.
Mental illness conditions which have been associated with various B vitamin deficiencies include depression, paranoia, irritability, anxiety, fatigue, insomnia, and learning difficulties. We see all of these conditions at Caring Medical. All too often, the patients have been seen by a dozen physicians and been treated for only the symptoms which they describe, not the root cause of the problem. Some medications commonly prescribed for these types of conditions can actually further deplete B vitamin levels, put more stress on one's body, and leave the patient feeling worse. B vitamin supplementation can be an integral part of an individualized natural medicine program for reversing these conditions.
So do you think you get enough B? Many people think they are, but may actually be doing more to cause a B vitamin deficiency. Some common causes of B vitamin deficiency which can aggravate mental health disorders include alcohol or drug abuse, estrogen use, oral contraceptives, anti-depressants, a diet high in processed foods, and antibiotic use in food supply.
Foods that contain B vitamins include:
Meats, whole grain pasta, grains, rice, wheat germ and nuts.
Of course, there are many considerations made for people who want to improve his or her mental health. Many of our patients find that there are multiple factors which can aggravate his or her mental illness such as hypoglycemia, pH imbalance, hormone imbalance, and others. If you would like to find ways to treat mental illness using an individualized natural medicine approach, please call for a consultation.
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