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Jump-Start Your Brain with This Morning Juice
Food & Drink
Get more blood flowing to your brain -- and more clever thoughts flowing from it -- by drinking a little beet juice in the morning.
Like every other part of your body, your brain requires good blood flow in order to function quickly and effectively. And research shows that a morning shot of beet juice may help ensure good circulation to your cranium.
Why beet juice instead of apple or orange? Beets are a good source of nitrates, helpful little substances that get converted into nitrites by bacteria in our saliva. And nitrites do a world of good for blood vessels, helping them to relax and better assist blood flow and oxygen circulation.
When researchers recently upped participants' nitrate intake by having them drink 16 ounces of beet juice with breakfast, among other dietary changes, a brain scan done just a day later showed noticeably better blood flow to white matter in the frontal-lobe region of the brain, an area where blood flow of tens suffers.
Go with the Flow
As you might guess, nitrites can help your blood pressure, too, thanks to that same action of helping blood vessels relax. But beets are not your only source. You can snag similar nutritional benefits from fresh nonprocessed foods like celery, fennel, leeks, leafy greens, and cabbage.
Fast and Lasting
Before you go overboard on beet juice, keep in mind that it was a small study with lots of caveats -- and lots more research will be needed to confirm the results. But the initial take was promising. Compared with the people in the study who drank water, those who drank a serving of beet juice had a drop in blood pressure just 1 hour later. Twenty-four hours later, systolic blood pressure was still several points lower in the beet juice drinkers than in the water drinkers. Here's how to make sure you're getting accurate blood pressure readings at home.
You still should make sure you hydrate yourself when you first get up by drinking half of your body weight to wake up your digestive system or divide the amount to drink during your waking hours (with this one, start your day with at least 16oz).
Keep your brain young with these additional mental-edge strategies:
Both tuna and eggs are good sources of vitamin B12. And B12 may help keep brain atrophy in check.
As if wrinkles weren't bad enough, turns out our brains tend to shrivel as we age, too. Could eggs and tuna be the key to less shrinkage?
Why Bigger Is Better
Brain shrinkage is commonly seen in people with Alzheimer's disease, and more and more research points to a connection between cognitive function and B12 levels. So that may explain the connection with brain shrinkage. B vitamins may help ward off stroke, too.
In a 5-year study, people in their 60s and beyond who were low -- but not deficient -- on B12 were three to six times more likely to have brain atrophy than did people on the higher end of the normal B12 range. So being even a little low may be bad. Make sure you're getting enough by taking a supplement or eating B12-rich foods -- like eggs and tuna.
Michael Roizen, MD - Cleveland, OH - Internal Medicine
Two research studies drill down deep into food's good -- and bad -- effects on your gray matter. Here's the verdict:
Good food results in fewer "silent" brain problems. Brain scans of 966 elderly New York City residents show that loading your plate with food from the Mediterranean diet (vegetables, fruit, fish, whole grains, nuts, olive oil, and a little wine) protects tiny blood vessels in the brain.
People who ate this way had less blood vessel damage caused by silent strokes that fuzz up your ability to balance your checkbook, remember your neighbor's name, or play a mean game of pinochle.
The right nutrients boost sharp thinking and keep your brain bigger, too! When nearly 100 elderly women and men had their blood tested for key vitamins and fats, then took a thinking-skills test (some had their brain size measured, too), an "eat healthy" pattern emerged among the people with the best test scores.
Those with higher levels of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) omega-3 fatty acids and of vitamins B, C, D, and E had the sharpest minds and largest total brain volume. Those with the highest levels of trans fats -- the nasty fats found in processed foods -- didn't fare as well.
Univ. of Nev. School of Medicine, Family Medicine
Sugars in the diet, or the lack thereof, can affect the energy source for the brain. The brain uses a lot of glucose or sugar to maintain activity. If someone doesn’t eat sugars/carbs, then the brain can use ketones as an energy source. 12-14 hours after the body last ingests carbs, the body starts to go into mild ketosis. If no protein is available from the diet to turn into ketones, the body starts to break down its fat and muscles to provide energy for the brain.
Another way to affect the brain through the diet is by fats. The brain cells have a fluid membrane or outer surface made up of various types of fats. This outer surface needs to be flexible and fluid enough to transmit electrical signals from one cell to another. Some types of fats are more liquid at room temperature, while others are more solid. A fine balance between the various types of fats is needed for the brain to function at the best of its ability.
Certain types of fats in larger quantities are not good for the brain, especially trans and saturated fats. Recent studies are suggesting that these types of fats may increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and declining brain function. #RealAge #tipit
Dr. Daniel Amen shares:
Whenever I have a speaking engagement or book signing, people always ask me what I eat on a typical day. I have a fruit shake with my wife Tana’s Omni Diet stevia-sweetened pea-protein powder for breakfast. I bring fresh-cut veggies with a little guacamole to work as a morning snack. I usually have a 350-calorie chicken and veggie stir fry with green tea for lunch. I have a Brain on Joy bar and a few raw nuts as an afternoon snack.
For dinner, I will often have a large salad or soup, plenty of veggies, and some form of protein like ahi tuna, wild salmon, or turkey if I need to focus in the evening.For the salad, I always put the dressing on the side. Why? I want to control the calories that go into my body. And, I always have dessert… usually frozen blueberries with Greek yogurt. With these brain healthy meals, I usually get eight or nine servings of fruits and veggies a day. It adds up to about 1,700 calories, which is slightly less than the 2,000 calories necessary to maintain my weight.
More on Diet & Nervous System
How can eating vegetables help prevent mental decline?
What type of fish should I eat to keep my mind sharp?
Can fasting help keep my mind sharp?#RealAge #tipit