Dr. Thomson gave a talk on Monday March 19th to a sold out crowd at the Crowfoot YMCA. The lecture is part of Amaranth Foods 4th Annual “Spring into Health” presentation series. Once you’ve viewed the presentation, have a look at our Top 10 Cookbooks to Boost your Brain, Body & Spirit
Brain Food: Increase your brain power
by Mehmet C. Oz, MD, and Michael F. Roizen, MD
So you want a brain that’s as razor-sharp as an Iron Chef’s favorite knife? Grab one (a knife, that is) and start chopping up some brain food. There’s been an avalanche of good news lately about between-the-ears health (including reports about an exciting Alzheimer’s disease drug), but nothing tops amazing new proof that the plate-to-brain connection can keep your brain cells young.
Two brand-new 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 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.
Meanwhile, we’re cheering for the promising Alzheimer’s drug, too. It’s the skin-cancer drug bexarotene, which in lab studies whisked away 75% of Alzheimer’s-related protein fragments (called beta amyloid) in rats’ brains in just 3 days. Since its safety (but not efficacy for this effect) is already known for humans, we think quick testing as an Alzheimer’s treatment will be a research priority! But don’t wait. Start eating brain boosters now! Other new research shows that 76% of brain health is in your hands (just 24% is genetic). Here’s how your brain hopes you’re eating:
Opt for healthy fats. Choosing monounsaturated “good” fats instead of “bad” saturated fats offers you the most protection against brain damage from silent strokes, so spread peanut butter (or the more sophisticated walnut, macadamia, almond, or cashew butter) instead of cream cheese on your whole-grain bagel; olive oil and vinegar instead of Ranch dressing; and a small handful (6 to 12 halves) of walnuts plus a crunchy apple instead of snacking on chips or ice cream.
Catch some omega-3s, even if you don’t love fish. Three 3-ounce servings a week of non-fried fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, trout, haddock, or sardines, can make your RealAge younger. Not into fin food? Take omega-3 capsules. We like the DHA form of omega-3s (and prefer algae-based supplements to fish oil) and recommend 600 to 900 milligrams a day.
Buy brain-boosting foods, especially produce and whole grains. Drive-through dining with a multivitamin chaser won’t cut it. Aim to eat a rainbow of brightly colored produce for vitamin C. Get vitamin B6 from baked potatoes, roasted skinless chicken breast, and chickpeas; vitamin B12 from seafood, yogurt, or nutritional yeast; and folate (yep, it’s in the B family) from spinach, lentils, papayas, and asparagus. Add almonds, sunflower seeds, spinach, or hazelnuts for your dose of mixed tocopherols (the active component of vitamin E). Top it off with a vitamin D supplement (1,000 IU of vitamin D before age 60; 1,200 after). On the bright side, spending 10 to 20 minutes a day in the sun can boost your body’s production of vitamin D by between 3,000 and 20,000 IU, depending on your skin type.
Go easy on (or eliminate) meats, sweets, and white carbs. Limiting these also helps protect your brain’s thinking ability. Choose fish, nuts, or beans instead of beef; fruit, veggies, or nonfat/no-sugar-added yogurt instead of sweets; and 100% whole grains in place of white bread, white rice, and white pasta.