As we get older it gets harder to remember things. Even the sharpest of minds can start to experience cognitive decline. However, there are many dietary modifications that you can adopt that have been shown to improve the brain function.
Consumption of blueberries and strawberries has been shown to reduce brain ageing by up to 2.5 years.
The herb rosemary, when used in cooking, has been shown to improve memory and enhance the processing speed of the brain.
Just one week on a plant-based diet can significantly drop blood levels of homocysteine. Homocysteine is a toxin associated with cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease.
Dehydration causes brain shrinkage and may not only play a role in cognitive impairment, but also in levels of energy, alertness, and happiness. So try and drink up to 2.5 litres of water per day!
Nitrate rich vegetables such as rocket, beetroot and rhubarb increase blood flow to the brain and can increase cognitive function by optimising oxygen delivery.
Reducing glycotoxin intake can prevent brain shrinkage and cognitive decline. Glycotixins are present in foods such as chicken, pork, beef and fish, but can also accumulate if you are a smoker. They act on the brain to suppress an enzyme involved with the removal of plaques and tangles in your DNA. Over time these can accumulate in the brain and contribute to Alzheimer’s disease.
The kidneys assist the body in maintaining good hydration and electrolyte levels. They also remove excess acids and waste products from the blood, which are then excreted in urine. Maintaining good kidney health is important to prevent water retention, high blood pressure and acidosis in the body.
Kidney health can be maintained and improved in a number of ways, including:
Eating foods that promote nitric oxide release in the arteries will improve the blood flow to the smallest arteries that pass through the kidneys. Foods such as beetroot, rocket, rhubarb, garlic, spicy foods, cooked tomatoes and roasted vegetables will all help the arteries to open up and increase blood flow.
The kidneys will function at their best if you reduce the amount of acid forming foods you consume. Foods such as meat, fish and eggs, as well as fats and processed foods, will increase the acid load on the kidneys. Alkaline forming foods on the other hand, such as fruit and vegetables, green leafy vegetables and dried fruits will dramatically reduce the acid load.
Changing dietary intake to comprise the eating of smaller meals at more frequent intervals is thought to be more beneficial for weight loss than eating larger meals less frequently. This is likely due to improved control of glucose levels, better appetite control, and increased calorie use by the body during digestion. Also eating protein at regular intervals during the day increases muscle mass after exercise training, as more protein is available for repair, regeneration and growth of muscle tissue. The number of calories you burn throughout the day while at rest is largely dependent on muscle mass and a fat burning diet can be enhanced though gains in muscle. Maintaining or increasing muscle mass is a key factor in health as we age and also with survival and recovery from many disease conditions. The best results were observed when daily calorie intake was split over 5 or more meals a day. Increased fat loss as well as gains in muscle mass were noted. A high protein diet in conjunction with higher feeding frequency, has also shown beneficial effects on body composition, greater appetite control has also been observed with higher feeding frequency, with many people consuming less calories when adopting this method.
Eat little and often (5+ small meals per day).
Eat slowly and focus on chewing food thoroughly.
Be careful not to exceed daily calorie intake (using a small side plate for meals can help you judge portion sizes). Also do not snack between meals.
Keep to a balanced diet with low glycaemic index, high protein and vegetable content.
Thick soups or healthy green smoothies fill you up more quickly with smaller portions.
Exercise (you will see better gains in muscle mass from eating protein regularly throughout the day).
In the 1920’s food merchants were concerned about the amount of money lost to spoilage. They found that if they put certain chemicals like nitrates into food, it was less likely to spoil. Nitrates are also used as fertilisers by farmers. The problem is that these chemicals preserve the cells in your body as well as the cells in food. The cells stop working. Cells that stop working are called disease.
Next, food manufacturers found that if they cook fats at about 350 degrees fahrenheit for about five hours, the fats turned into something similar to plastic. Foods processed this way are called ‘partially hydrogenated fats’ or ‘trans fats’ or ‘plastic fats’. If you look in your larder, you will probably find processed food with these fats in them.
When you eat these plastic fats, your cell membranes become more plastic. Think of a cell with a plastic membrane. It is like wrapping the cell in sellotape. The cell sends out a signal that it is hungry. In response, the body sends glucose and insulin to the cell. However, they can’t get through the membrane. The cell continues to signal that it is hungry, and the body continues to send it more food. Soon the cell is surrounded by glucose and insulin but the cell is still hungry. This is known as insulin resistance and type II diabetes. The cell membrane becomes so saturated that it starts to offload excess glucose into fat cells. Thus people who continue to eat plastic fats get fatter and fatter.
Guess what happens to a brain made of plastic? It doesn’t work well and becomes prone to depression, chronic fatigue, attention deficiency and brain fog.
Guess what happens to a liver that is made of plastic. It can’t clean out the toxins in your system, causing things like fibromyalgia. Without a functional liver, your immune system fails and you get all sorts of chronic infections.
Writing a food diary can help you see where you are with your diet and might be a useful tool to highlight any imbalances that need to be addressed. Be honest with yourself and write in your diary everything that you put in your mouth, including the amounts of still water, tea, coffee, wine and beer that you drink. Include also the time of day, as this has a huge bearing on the efficiency of your digestion and absorption. What are you snacking on? How much fresh fruit and vegetables do you eat? How much processed foods, including sandwiches, do you eat?
Please remember that good nutrition combined with sufficient exercise is a powerful means to maintain and improve all aspects of your health and wellbeing.
Did you know that children who eat salty foods tend to seek out sugary drinks, which leads to obesity? The quality of food that children eat today will have a striking impact on their health throughout adolescence and adulthood. Consuming nutritious foods helps children and teenagers grow, develop, do well academically and feel good about themselves. Good nutrition also helps to prevent eating disorders, obesity, dental cavities and iron-deficiency anaemia. Also, studies show that children who eat breakfast perform better in school. According to reports from the American Dietetic Association, students who eat breakfast have better problem-solving abilities, memory, verbal fluency and creativity. They are also less likely to be absent. The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention reports that children who do not eat breakfast, or eat an insufficient breakfast, are more likely to have behavioural, emotional and academic problems at school.
Nutrient Robbers are processed foods that not only fail to provide any valuable nutrients or energy to the body, but also rob it of its nutritional reserves as it strives to break them down. Many degenerative diseases have been linked to the consumption of processed foods. These include: