Posts filed under ‘Nutrition & Diet’

5 Quick & Easy Brain-Healthy Snacks

Looking for Brain Healthy Snacks? This isn't one of them ;) Image by mzacha on Stock.Xchng Snack foods. They’re typically high in salt, fats, and high-fructose corn syrup. The salt is hard on the heart, the sweeteners can spike glucose levels,  and long term, they can put your cognitive function at risk.  But snacking itself isn’t a bad idea – it keeps energy levels on an even keel throughout the day, making sure the brain is well supplied with the fuel it needs.  Luckily, substituting brain-healthier snack foods is simple and tasty.  Read on for  5 examples of healthy snack alternatives!

1. Grab a  handful of almonds and dried berries – look for unsweetened dried blueberries, cranberries, and strawberries in your grocery store.   Easy to carry in a ziplock bag, the berries add antioxidents and satisfy your sweet tooth, while almonds are rich in Omega-3’s, give you a crunch and a feeling of fullness from their healthy fats.  For even more variety, add walnuts, raisins, pumpkin and sunflower seeds – just try and choose unsalted, unsweetened  varieties!

2.  Try smoked wild salmon, or foil pouches of salmon and albacore tuna. Again, it’s easy to carry with you,  provides you with a mid-afternoon protein boost, and plenty of omega oils for an extra brain boost.

3. If you’re more adventurous with fish, try canned sardines, herring and kippers.  Opt for lower salt versions packed in water.

4. If your sweet tooth needs a fix, try the darkest chocolate you can find.  Yes, chocolate can actually be *good* for your brain if you eat it in moderation, keep the sugar content down and the cocoa content up.

5. Experiment with teas. Herbal teas come in a wide variety of types and flavors – green teas are a great choice, and have been the focus of many brain-related studies. Other herbal teas are being investigated for stress and mood related impact…  and simply the ritual can be calming and beneficial.

With a bit of creative thinking, snacks can do far more good than harm when it comes to cognitive health.  And as a bonus? Every time you stretch your synapses  to think up new snacks, you’re exercising your brain.

What’s your favorite brain healthy snack? Have an idea or recipe to share?

April 15, 2010 at 9:06 pm Leave a comment

Milk: A Prevention Against Dementia?

Milk: It Does A Brain Good  (Image by Anadin on Stock.Xchng) We know milk is important for bone strength, and growing children, but could it also help protect the brain as we age?  According to researchers at the University of Oxford,  milk’s high levels of B12 may make it an easy way to help keep the brain healthy.

Why B12?

Patients with B12 deficiencies suffer more from brain atrophy (where the brain actually shrinks) than those with normal or above levels of the vitamin.  And brain atrophy is associated with dementia’s of various types, including Alzheimer’s.

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February 23, 2010 at 3:27 pm Leave a comment

Of Mediterranean Diets, Memory & Healthy Aging

Olives: Part of a brain-healthy Mediterranean Diet.  Image by sasicd on Stock.Xchng

A new study shows that a “Mediterranean Diet” may be helpful in protecting memory.

Why? It seems to reduce the risk of small areas of brain damage caused that often contribute to cognitive problems.   Those areas of damage come from  (frequently undetected)  mini-strokes known as “infarcts”, and they’re involved in many cases of dementia.

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February 11, 2010 at 4:22 pm Leave a comment

Taking Ginkgo? Take Care If You’re Epileptic

Ginkgo Leaves - Image by saflora on Stock.Xchng For years, Ginkgo Biloba has been a  top selling herbal supplement among seniors.  Early studies suggested that the way it increases blood flow might be helpful for protecting memory and mental functions, but more recent and in depth studies show few (if any) benefits to memory.

Still, Ginkgo was considered generally safe, and while experts were no longer recommending people start taking the herb in the hope of improving their memory, they weren’t recommending people stop, either.

But a research review released this month has revealed potential risks with the remedy, especially for those with epilepsy.  Ginkgo appears to increase the risk of seizures, even  among those on anti-seizure  medication.

The herb contains a potentially harmful substance known as Ginkgotoxin, which appears to alter signaling pathways in the brain.  Those changes to the pathways seem to trigger seizures.  Ginkgo also appears to interact with some anti-seizure medications, reducing their effectiveness and increasing the risk of what’s known as “breakthrough” seizures.

So Ginkgo is clearly not “safe” for epileptics.

Additional studies have hinted at a potential increase in stroke risk when Ginkgo is taken regularly, and Ginkgo is known to interfere with blood clotting and increased bleeding in case of injury, so it’s hardly risk free.

Many seniors like the idea of herbal supplements – they’re  inexpensive compared to many pharmaceuticals, they’re easy to obtain, and generally assumed to be safe because they are natural.

But they aren’t as safe as people believe. Herbal supplements aren’t subject to the same approval process that drugs go through, and little is often known about they interact with each other, or with pharmaceuticals (prescription or over the counter).

As for the popular belief that natural means safe, many poisons and toxins are natural, too. Natural, but definitely not “safe”.

And while brain-fitness aware seniors are the most likely users of products like Ginkgo, they’re also at special risk for complications; their systems may be more sensitive, they’re more likely to have existing health conditions, and to be taking medications that may have interactions with the supplements.

So if you’re taking Ginkgo or other herbal supplements (or are considering starting) make sure you check with your doctor and pharmacist to evaluate the risks — especially if you’re epileptic.

February 9, 2010 at 6:09 pm Leave a comment

Gobble Up That Cranberry Sauce! (It’s GREAT for the Brain)

Cranberries: Good For The Brain!  Image by Keira on Stock.XchngCranberries: a staple of American holiday meals, they find their way onto the table  as gelled sauces & relishes, in muffins, stuffing, juices, fruit salads and pretty much anything else we can throw them into to add bit of tart , festive redness.

And as it turns out, we probably *should* be throwing them into as many dishes as possible;  cranberries are ridiculously healthy for us, and especially, excitingly, enticingly good for the brain.

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November 26, 2009 at 9:00 am Leave a comment

Moderate Drinking: Maybe Not So Good For Your Brain, After All

Social Drinking & Your Brain: Not Such A Good Idea After All  (image by mzacha on Stock.Xchng) File this one under the category of “Why some science research is marked as preliminary” — and also under “Why the media (including bloggers *cough cough*) shouldn’t jump on these sorts of results too enthusiastically.”

What the heck am I going on about?

Not so long ago, a widely reported study noted that people who were moderate drinkers (about  1-2 drinks per day) seemed to stay a wee bit sharper as they aged, had less memory loss, and lowered odds of dementia and Alzheimer’s.

And there was some underlying support for the idea, too – red wine, for instance, is known to contain high levels of a resveratrol (believed to be beneficial for the brain), and moderate drinking can help improve blood circulation to the brain, increase “good” cholesterol, and other things that might (note that I said might!) be good for the brain.

Both the researchers, the American Medical Association, and other assorted experts advised caution about the idea — some even pointed to other studies that said moderate drinking might actually shrink the brain.  Even so, some people no doubt headed out to the bars, touting their boosted brain as the result of their drinking!

And a more recent look at the info suggests the situation is, indeed, a wee bit more complicated than that.

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November 19, 2009 at 3:50 pm Leave a comment

Brain Healthy Foods: Six Simple Snacks

Healthy eating is a big part of keeping your brain fit. It provides the energy you  need for clear thinking, the nutrients for building, protecting and even repairing your neural network of brain cells.  And by choosing healthy snacks, you can prevent blood glucose  roller-coasters that is associated with memory problems. So what’s healthy, and what’s not?  Here are a few suggestions:

Image by forwardcom on Stock.Xchng1. Go Nuts

Nuts make excellent snacks, each variety providing a different brain-boosting mix of nutrients. Walnuts, almonds, cashews, peanuts, pecans…. all of them benefit the brain in a variety of ways, providing protein, Omega-3’s, and more.  A handful of them a day is a great addition to the diet (but watch out for the overly salted mixes, and don’t over indulge; nuts are high in fats)

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October 9, 2009 at 3:27 pm 1 comment

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About This Blog


A healthy mind and brain is key to a healthy, active life. Come along for the ride as we explore the basics of brain health, with topics including:
  • Physical Exercise
  • Cognitive Training
  • Stress Management
  • Social Interaction
  • Sleep
  • Nutrition
  • A Sense of Purpose & Connection
Authored by Tori Deaux
Sponsored by Dakim Brain Fitness

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