Nutrition increases brain health.

nutrientsA new study released by the American Association of Retired Persons has identified a number of crucial nutrients vital to brain health, healthy life style and heart health. Nutrition is the key to a healthy mind and a healthy heart.

The following nutrients have been identified as being vital to health:

Cocoa flavanols have a high anti-oxidant activity which have been linked to improved circulation and heart health, and preliminary research is showing a possible connection to memory improvement. A specific part of the brain, the dentate gyrus, is potentially associated with age-related memory decline, and that dietary cocoa flavanols may help improve the function of this region. The study involved 37 healthy subjects, aged 50–69, who were randomized to receive either a high-flavanol diet (900 mg/day) or a low-flavanol diet (10 mg/day) for three months. The researchers used specific memory tests and brain imaging techniques to determine the impact of cocoa flavanols.

Omega-3 fatty acids, particularly long-chain eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), are associated with heart health benefits, but have also been shown to play a potential role in cognitive health. Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid (n-3 PUFA) supplementation appeared to be a useful tool in health promotion and cognitive decline prevention during aging. Nineteen-month-old mice were given either n-3 PUFA mixture, olive oil, or no dietary supplement for 8 weeks. Aged mice supplemented with n-3 PUFA exhibited better object recognition memory, spatial and localizatory memory, and aversive response retention, without modifications in anxiety levels.

A combination of phosphatidylserine (PS) and phosphatidic acid (PA) can help benefit memory, mood, and cognitive function in the elderly. PS is an important structural component of cell membranes and is found in concentrated amounts in brain cells. The first study, a three-month-long, double-blind, placebo-controlled study on the effects of PS and PA on 72 functioning, non-depressive elderly subjects with memory problems, demonstrated a statistically significant positive influence of PS and PA on memory, mood, and cognition in pre-post comparison.

Walnuts are another nutrient associated with their heart health benefits, as they contain a source of the omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). Dietary supplementation with walnuts may have a beneficial effect in reducing the risk, delaying the onset, or slowing the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.

Citicoline is a natural substance found in the body’s cells. It supplies precursors for the synthesis of phospholipids, including phosphatidyl choline, a major constituent of brain tissue; helps maintain normal levels of acetylcholine, a chemical that regulates memory and cognitive function; enhances communication between neurons; and protects neural structures from free radical damage. The study included 349 subjects with a mean age of 79.9. The subjects, who complained of memory lapses but showed no signs of brain damage or Alzheimer’s disease, were given 500 mg of Cognizin. Their memory was tested at three, six, and nine months and then compared to tests given to a control group taking no supplements. A significant difference was found between the subjects in the experimental group and control group at both three and six months.

Magnesium is related to brain health, and supplements are sometimes recommended for those who experience serious concussions. Animal studies have shown it to improve memory, recognition, and learning. The studies have also shown it to help maintain the health of the neuron cells and increase neural plasticity.

Blueberries are known to have high antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity, boasting a high concentration of anthocyanins. Moderate-term blueberry supplementation can offer neurocognitive benefits. The researchers noted that anthocyanins have been associated with increased neuronal signaling in brain centers, mediating memory function as well as improved glucose disposal, benefits that would be expected to mitigate neurodegeneration. The researchers investigated the effects of daily consumption of wild blueberry juice on a sample of nine older adults with early memory changes. At 12 weeks, improved paired-associate learning and word list recall were observed. Greater intakes of blueberries and strawberries were associated with slower rates of cognitive decline. Additionally, greater intakes of anthocyanidins and total flavonoids were associated with slower rates of cognitive decline.


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