February 2009 Issue

9 Healthful Ways To Boost Your Brain Function And Smarten Up Now

Just like the rest of your body, your noggin’ needs nourishment—and exercise. Research on brain health shows that what you eat and how you live can affect memory, mental acuity, concentration and possibly help prevent Alzheimer’s disease. Research from the Chicago Health and Aging Project suggests that older folks who eat at least two cups of vegetables a day can slow mental decline by about 40% more than those who eat less than one serving a day. Eating fruit did not offer the same mental benefits; what people put on veggies (e.g., salad dressing or margarine, which both contain vitamin E) may give vegetables the edge. Still, many animal studies suggest that the antioxidants in certain fruits—notably blueberries—help reverse age-related declines in thinking and neuromotor skills by reducing oxidative stress and inflammation in the brain. While researchers caution they don’t know if the cognitive benefits seen in animals translate to humans, the research suggests a way the brain might protect itself from mental decline.

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