How to keep your brain healthy

Eat plenty of fresh vegetables and fruit.

The best vegetables are low-carb with lots of fibre, which gives a ‘full’ feeling and keeps the digestive track moving. Low-GI (glycaemic index) fresh fruit (slowly converted sugar), raw fresh salad vegetables and cooked (but never over cooked) vegetables should be the bulk of our diet.


High-quality healthy fats should ideally make up the majority of calories

(But not the bulk) of foods eaten by most people. These include

  • Omega-3s (from high-quality fish high in omega-3 . Avoiding those low in omega-3s or high in omega-6s or mercury – flaxseed, grass-fed beef, eggs, pasture-raised chickens)
  • Monounsaturated fats ( from extra-virgin olive oil, avocados, nuts, seeds)
  • Medium-chain triglycerides ( from extra-virgin coconut oil)
  • Saturated fats ( from grass-fed meat, pasture-raised eggs, milk, yogurt, cheese)
  • One healthy fat stands out as superior. Coconut oil. Organic extra-virgin coconut oil can improve cognition in Alzheimer’s suffers. Anecdotal reports show significant improvements even in advanced Alzheimer’s patients taking 3 Tbsp daily, while its use as a preventative for Alzheimer’s is currently being studied. Some authorities recommend 1-3 Tbsp daily to prevent cognitive decline. Coconut oil is an excellent cooking oil, as it doesn’t oxidize at high temperatures. Cooking with butter or clarified butter (ghee) is another safe alternative to vegetable oils that are unhealthy even at low temperatures.


Reduce dangerous oxidized fats

Cook at lower temperatures, and avoid burnt or charred meat, overcooked or powdered eggs, or powdered milk. Reduce or eliminate conventional grain-fed beef, fish with high mercury contents (swordfish, marlin, tilefish, shark, ahi, bigeye tuna) and fish high in omega-6 fats (tilapia, farm raised fish). Avoid trans fats and most vegetable oils except extra-virgin olive oil, which is better used cold than for cooking.


Lower sugar and carbohydrate intakes

High levels of sigar reduce neurogenesis sharply, and even ‘high-normal’ blood sugar levels are linked to smaller brain volumes, especially of the hippocampus, less grey matter and more cognitive decline in those over 60.


All  carbs are eventually converted to glucose

White and wholewheat flour are both converted to sugar within about the same amount of time, despite wholewheat’s better press. Starchy vegetables like potato, rice, yams have high GI loaf that taxes our systems, and eat fruit high in fructose (mangoes, peaches, plums, persimmons, bananas, grapes, lychees) sparingly, if at all. Dried fruit is almost pure sugar and best avoided, while fruit and carrot juices are similar to soda drinks in sugar contents are best omitted.


Opt for carbs with lots of fibre

(Squash, berries, carrots, string beans, kale, broccoli, cauliflower), as the body needs time to break down the fibre and liberate the sugar; this time lag prevents the sugar and insulin, spikes behind insulin resistance.

Increase the time between meals and do intermittent fasts.

(an early dinner and late breakfast provides more than 12-14 hours of fasting). Increasing the time between meals raises levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a neutral growth factor, and the rate of neurogenesis, and increases insulin sensitivity. Intermittent fasting can also improve the metabolic syndrome, which is linked to cognitive decline.


Avoid alcohol and caffeine

Moderate alcohol consumption reduces neurogenesis by 40% and BDNF levels too, while binge drinking in adolescence may have significant effects on neurogenesis and BDNF levels well into adulthood. As for caffeine even low or physiologically relevant doses (anything you can feel) can reduce neurogenesis and impair memory. So try drinking less caffeine or even stopping completely. You’ll adjust within a few weeks and wonder what the big deal was. Taking extra B5 and B12 vitamins can help, as these are psychic energizers.

Avoid deficiencies in zinc, vitamin A, thiamine and folic acid (B1 and B9)

When we’re low in these vitamins and minerals, nerogenesis slows, but returns to normal when we supplement or re-establish healthy levels.


Opt for chewy food

Eating soft foods (ice cream, processed foods, puddings, jelly, mashed potato, overcooked vegetables, bananas) reduces neurogenesis, while liquid foods reduce the survival of new brain cells. A diet of sold food that needs chewing increases neurogenesis, BDNF and memory.


Get moving

(and slightly out of breath). Aerobic exercise is best for neurogenesis – at least in animal studies. Whether it’s running, brisk walking, cycling, dancing, swimming, water running, cardio classes, football, tennis or hiking, if it gets you breathing fast and hard, its aerobic, and it reduces the brain protein BMP (bone morphogenetic protein) which slows neurogenesis and keeps natural stem cells in a kind of cellular sleep. But according to the New York times (7/7/2010), just one week of running in wheels reduces BMP by 50% in mice, while increasing the wonderfully named protein Noggin, which stimulates neurogenesis.



What Doctors dont tell you

Helping you make better health choices

November 2016