Many of my older patients have told me that if they had to pick a condition to get as they got older, it would be something other than one that affected their brain and mental performance. After all, who you are now, who you were in your past, your life’s memories are all stored in your brain. If you started to develop impairment of your cognitive function, who you are may be decreased, or completely lost, to you. That’s why I tell my patients to do everything possible to keep their brain function healthy and optimize their mental performance. These 4 super-nutrients have been research-proven to help you do just that.
If you’re like many of my patients over 50, you may experience memory glitches, or what a lot of people like to call, “senior moments” here and there. You forget where you put your keys and other objects, you forget names, you may even feel that you’re just not thinking as fast as you used to, or are having trouble retrieving the word you want.
A lot of these memory “fall outs” as I like to call them, can often be explained away by stress and becoming upset about something. But often they have a nutritional basis, too – you’re not getting enough of the nutrients that certain areas of your brain need for correct functioning. As you get older, your entire system may be trying to function through a nutritional deficit which can result in you developing a lot of different conditions and vague symptoms.
For your brain, these symptoms can be pretty clear – brain fog, processing information more slowly, having to read something a few times before you “get it”. It’s a lot like your computer hard drive slowing down from too many junk files like cookies, etc, sapping its energy. Recently, researchers out of the University of South Florida have found that a few key nutrients can speed up your mental processing, improve your memory and your verbal ability. And, the best part is, they’re simple foods you eat (or should be eating) regularly.
1. Blueberries. We’ve known for a few years now what a powerful antioxidant this phytonutrient-rich superfood is. They have a very high ORAC (oxygen radical absorption capacity) value which makes them very protective against all kinds of diseases, including cancer. Your brain needs optimal amounts of antioxidants to keep it from damaging brain cells and setting you up for cognitive problems like memory loss and decrease of mental capacity. You can eat blueberries for their antioxidant and fiber value. Research has shown that even eating a modest amount of the natural fruit everyday may help slow memory and motor coordination skill-loss like that seen in older people. You can also take blueberry in a convenient extract supplement that concentrates the power of many blueberries into easily taken capsules. If you do, get 100- 200 mg a day.
2. Green Tea. Researchers have been documenting the numerous health benefits of green tea now for decades. A study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition revealed that one of the groups of people who drink the most green tea in the world, the Japanese, had the least cognitive (mental performance) impairment in older people, aged 70 up. These included areas like attention span, memory, orientation, and command-following. To get the benefits for yourself, drink at least 2 cups a day, or you can also take concentrated green tea extract at 200 mg a day.
3. Carnosine. Not to be confused with L-carnitine, which has recently been found problematic for your heart, carnosine is an amino acid that your body makes from the proteins that you eat. It’s been proven in Russian research to be very beneficial to the lens of the eye, treating (in drops form) cataract formations. But what’s good for the eyes is also known to be good for the brain. Carnosine, in the University of South Florida study, has been shown to clear toxins from brain tissues. Toxin-buildup contributes to the development of brain-damaging plaques. It also is a mitochondria stimulant. Mitochondria is the power center of your cells, so revving them up also helps speed up your brain cells’ capacity to process information faster. Eat rich sources of protein like grass-fed beef to get carnosine’s brain-cleaning abilities. A 7-ounce steak has about 250 mg, and supplements range from 250-500, but I don’t recommend going over 500 mg a day.
4. Vitamin D3. So much more is known now about this amazing vitamin/immune system booster, and how deficiencies in it are so common. In research out of the University of Cambridge (England), low Vitamin D3 blood levels were associated with very low performance on mental-performance tests, especially slower information processing. In fact, low D3 levels may actually damage the brain, says recent research out of the University of Kentucky. Low D3-level brains were shown to have much higher amounts of tau proteins – those associated with Alzheimer disease. Be sure to get 1,000-2,000 mg a day in winter, if you don’t live in a year-round “sunshine” state, like Arizona, Florida or California, etc.
The more research I read about all the incredible health benefits that natural foods, vitamins and minerals offer us, the more I’m convinced that Nature holds the key to preventing, and treating, likely, every ailment that afflicts us. As you get older, be sure to get enough of these 4 super-nutrients to keep your brain clean, boost information processing speed and memory.