Our Better Health

Diet, Health, Fitness, Lifestyle & Wellness


1 Comment

Coffee vs. Tea: Is One Better for Your Health?

A hot cup of coffee can perk you up in the morning. A soothing cup of tea can help you relax after a stressful day. And the latest research about the health benefits of each might help you feel a little better about them, whichever beverage you drink.

After years of studies that seemed to swing between dire warnings and cheery promises about what our favorite caffeinated beverages do and don’t do, much of the recent science regarding coffee and tea is generally positive.

The WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer recently took coffee off its list of suspected carcinogens, and some research suggests it could help keep colon cancer from coming back after treatment. Other studies suggest drinking coffee might stave off Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.

Various studies have pointed to tea drinkers having lower odds of skin, breast, and prostate cancers. Researchers are still trying to pinpoint the exact ways that happens. But tea, particularly green tea, is rich in compounds like antioxidants, which can limit cell damage and boost the immune system; and polyphenols, which have been shown to lower blood pressure and cholesterol. It also may help stave off Alzheimer’s disease through a polyphenol known as EGCG, which prevents the formation of plaques that are linked to that brain-damaging illness.

Is one better for you than the other?

Experts say that’s hard to say. That’s because it’s difficult to separate out their different ingredients, their role in your diet, and their effects on different body systems.

“I think people are looking at both coffee and tea and how they affect everything, including cancer and GI disease and cardiovascular diseases,” says Elliott Miller, MD, a critical care medicine specialist at the National Institutes of Health.

Miller and his colleagues recently looked at signs of heart disease in more than 6,800 people from different backgrounds across the country. About 75% drank coffee, while about 40% reported drinking tea. Drinking more than one cup of tea regularly was linked to less buildup of calcium in arteries that supply blood to the heart, a development that can lead to heart disease.

Coffee didn’t have an effect either way on heart disease, but that was significant in itself, Miller says.

“Very often patients will ask their doctors, ‘Hey, doc, I’ve got coronary artery disease, or I’ve got risk factors like high blood pressure or cholesterol. Is it safe for me to drink coffee?’ Because everyone thinks drinking coffee makes your heart excited and is potentially bad,” Miller says. “So finding that it’s neutral, I think, is pretty important.”

Researchers say it’s hard to pinpoint exactly how both drinks affect health. Both coffee and tea are “complex beverages” that contain a variety of ingredients. They include caffeine, polyphenols, and antioxidants – compounds researchers are studying for their potential cancer-fighting properties, says Lisa Cimperman, a clinical dietitian at University Hospitals Case Medical Center.

“It’s more of a dynamic interaction than one single compound,” Cimperman says. Some people have tried to isolate one element in tea or coffee that they think is the secret to one effect or another, “and then they realize that it doesn’t have the same effect.”

 © Johnfoto | Dreamstime.com © Johnfoto | Dreamstime.com Title: Coffee mug Description: Coffee mug on white background. Photo taken on: December 21st, 2010 * ID: * 17527982 * Level: * 3 * Views : * 252 * Downloads: * 17 * Model released: * NO * Content filtered: * NO Keywords (Report | Suggest) bean beverage breakfast cafe ceramic coffee cup drink handle hot mug relax

Cimperman said drinking tea has been linked to lower risks of cancer and heart disease, improved weight loss, and a stronger immune system. Meanwhile, studies point to coffee as a potential way to head off not just Parkinson’s but type 2 diabetes, liver disease, and heart problems, Cimperman says.

Another recent study, led by Charles Fuchs, MD, director of the Gastrointestinal Cancer Center at Boston’s Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, found regular coffee drinking may help prevent colon cancer from coming back after treatment.

In his study of nearly 1,000 patients, Fuchs says, there was a “significant and linear” association between drinking coffee and lower risk of colon cancer returning in those who drank four or more cups a day. “The more coffee they drank, the lower risk of recurrence.” But the researchers aren’t clear on which element of the drink contributed to that result, and there didn’t seem to be any effect from drinking tea, he says.

“I think you can have two or more cups a day without any concern, and certainly that may benefit you,” Fuchs says. But what about for those who don’t drink coffee? “If it was somebody who hates the stuff and asks, ‘Should I drink it?’ I’d say no. I’d counsel them about diet and exercise and avoiding obesity as measures I think would have a similar benefit.”

Other researchers are asking questions about what role genetics and lifestyle play into the effects of drinking coffee or tea. For instance, coffee and cigarettes once went together like … well, like coffee and cigarettes, which cause cancer and heart disease.

Some people’s bodies process coffee differently than others, says Martha Gulati, MD, head of cardiology at the University of Arizona College of Medicine in Phoenix. Meanwhile, a preference for tea over coffee might reflect other healthier behaviors, she says.

“Does someone who drinks tea do yoga or meditation more?” Gulati says. “I’m not necessarily saying they’re associated, but do they exercise more? Are they drinking things like green tea to maintain their weight better than other types of drinks?”

And Robert Eckel, MD, an endocrinologist at the University of Denver, says an overall heart-healthy diet is “probably the most important aspect” of preventing heart disease.

“We’re talking about fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean poultry, fish, legumes, nuts, and avoiding saturated fat. That nutritional message is unchanging,” Eckel says.

There are other variables. The WHO’s ruling on coffee nonetheless cautioned that any kind of extremely hot drinks could raise the risk of esophageal cancer, while Cimperman says dumping a lot of cream and sugar into your drink can blunt any benefits.

“No one beverage or food will make or break your diet,” she says. “The quality of your diet is always the sum of all the parts.”

By Matt Smith      Dec. 23, 2016         WebMD Health News Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD

Sources:
International Agency for Research on Cancer: “Evaluation of drinking coffee, maté, and very hot beverages.”
American Journal of Medicine: “Associations of Coffee, Tea, and Caffeine Intake with Coronary Artery Calcification and Cardiovascular Events.”
Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease: “Caffeine as a protective factor in dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.”
News release, American Academy of Neurology.
Journal of Clinical Oncology: “Coffee Intake, Recurrence, and Mortality in Stage III Colon Cancer: Results From CALGB 89803 (Alliance).”
National Cancer Institute: “Tea and cancer prevention.”
Current Pharmaceutical Design: “Reported Effects of Tea on Skin, Prostate, Lung and Breast Cancer in Humans.”
Critical Reviews in Food and Science Nutrition: “Tea and its consumption: benefits and risks.”
The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: “Catechin- and caffeine-rich teas for control of body weight in humans.”
The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: “Tea and flavonoid intake predict osteoporotic fracture risk in elderly Australian women: a prospective study.”
The Journal of Nutrition: “Coffee and tea consumption are inversely associated with mortality in a multiethnic urban population.”
The Journal of Nutrition: “Effect of increased tea consumption on oxidative DNA damage among smokers: a randomized controlled study.”
The Journal of Nutrition: “Black Tea Consumption Reduces Total and LDL Cholesterol in Mildly Hypercholesterolemic Adults.”
Diabetes Journals: “Coffee, Caffeine, and Risk of Type 2 Diabetes.”
European Journal of Gastroenterology & Hepatology: “Coffee consumption and risk of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease: a systematic review and meta-analysis.”
Circulation: “Long-Term Coffee Consumption and Risk of Cardiovascular Disease.”
Journal of Clinical Oncology: Coffee Intake, Recurrence, and Mortality in Stage III Colon Cancer: Results From CALGB 89803 (Alliance).”
Neurotoxicology:  “Onset and progression factors in Parkinson’s disease: A systematic review.”
Nature: “Effect of green tea consumption on blood pressure: A meta-analysis of 13 randomized controlled trials.”
Elliott Miller, MD, critical care medicine specialist, National Institutes of Health.
Lisa Cimperman, dietitian, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Robert Eckel, MD, former president, American Heart Association; University of Colorado School of Medicine.
Martha Gulati, MD, head of cardiology, University of Arizona College of Medicine, Phoenix.Charles Fuchs, director, Gastrointestinal Cancer Center, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston.


4 Comments

Top 10 Ways To Stay Healthy This Winter

It seems that no matter how well I plan to take it easy during the holidays, I still end up feeling exhausted when they’re over. Even though I try to avoid malls and holiday traffic all together, it seems that even the cooking and laughing and staying up late are enough to leave me feeling drained.

The cold temperatures and lack of sunshine that occur during the winter have a considerable impact on our well-being, particularly since Jack Frost brings unwanted presents with him: the flu and dampened moods.

But winter doesn’t have to zap your energy or pit you against this season’s new hard-to-beat bug. Stay well all winter long by following the action points below, suggested by health and well-being blogger, Alicia Benjamin.

Thankfully, for those of us who feel like we’ll never have the motivation to get back to our normal routine, these small actions only take a few minutes, or seconds, to do.

1. Eat one dark green vegetable every day. Dark green veggies contain minerals like iron and vitamins like A, C, K, and folate that your body needs to stay healthy. Instead of sticking with spinach, try something different like sautéed dandelion greens added to a stir-fry, or kale or Swiss chard added to a favorite stew or soup recipe.

2. Call a friend. Instead of hunkering down with Love Actually again during a snowstorm, give someone you haven’t seen in a while a call. Hearing a friend’s voice can boost your mood and socializing helps you feel connected to the people who matter most to you.

3. Take five. To combat feeling overwhelmed and rundown during the busy holiday season, take five minutes to close your eyes. Clear your mind of your to-do list (it can wait) and, instead, focus solely on your breathing. Rest your hands over your heart. Repeat in your mind or aloud a calming word, like “blue” or “ocean,” to help ease tension throughout your body. Try picturing yourself on a sunny beach; listen to the waves crash upon shore. Even though it’s not an actual vacation or a real respite from the freezing temps, visualization exercises can be very effective in promoting relaxation and boosting your mood.

4. Hide the remote. When the cold weather sets in, you may be tempted to curl up with a blanket and watch television. Instead, hide the remote so you’re forced to get up to change channels or adjust the volume. You can also challenge yourself by doing jumping jacks during commercial breaks. Little bursts of movement during your down time will ensure you’re getting much-needed activity during the hibernation months.
winter

5. Bake your fruit. Chances are you won’t be craving watermelon when temps drop. So instead, bake fruit for a healthy after-dinner dessert or oatmeal topping for breakfast. Put apple slices and cranberries in the oven for 20 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit, and add a sprinkle of cinnamon—a powerful antioxidant—on top to add both health benefits and flavor.

6. Go green. It’s tempting to reach for soda or coffee when we’re feeling sleepy during the winter. Instead, enjoy a cup of green tea. It’s loaded with antioxidants. Plus, green tea extract may also boost metabolism and help burn fat—an added bonus during a time in which we usually indulge. Want the benefits of other hues? Wear yellow or red during the bleakest of winter days to help boost your mood and energy level, or choose green or blue to bring a sense of calm to your busy holiday-planning days.

7. Get more D. We’re often bundled up inside during the winter months, which means we don’t get as much vitamin D as in summer months. There are lots of ways to get vegan and animal sources of vitamin D; supplement your diet with cod liver oil high in EPA/DHA; and add Sockeye salmon, sardines, shrimp, and tuna to your cold-weather menu. Vitamin D can help build strong bones (as it helps the body use calcium) and boost our immune systems for the flu season ahead. The National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends 400 to 800 IU of vitamin D daily for adults younger than 50, and 800 to 1,000 IU for adults 50 and older.

8. Disinfect your desk and phone. Your phone receiver and desk surface at work can harbor germs that are spreading around the office. Wipe down your space at least once a week with an antibacterial spray. Method and Seventh Generation make great ones. Also, slip a hand sanitizer in your purse to kill bacteria wherever you go.

9. Keep your bedroom at no more than 68-72 degrees F. Holding the heat will help promote a sound sleep to ensure you’re feeling well rested and refreshed to take on the winter days. Also, aim to get between 7 and 9 hours of sleep each night. Want to fall asleep more quickly? Wear socks to bed.

10. Get moving. Temps in the teens make it rather hard to pull yourself out from underneath a pile of blankets. But during the cold weather, nudge yourself to get moving because exercise helps boosts mood and your immune system. Not a fan of outdoor activities like snow shoeing? Hit the mall to walk laps; keep an eye out for gyms offering free trials or classes; look into the costs of joining a local community center like the YMCA; or simply add a few at-home exercises like squats, lunges, and wall push-ups to your daily routine.

A health and well-being blogger, Alicia Benjamin is currently enrolled at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition to become a certified health counselor. Alicia works as the Social Media Manager at MeYou Health, a Boston-based social well-being company that provides web and mobile apps to promote healthy living. Alicia tweets about well-being at @AliciaGetsFit and is a regular contributor to the MeYou Health blog.

by Beth Buczynski     @bethbuczynski
source: www.care2.com


4 Comments

What is Oolong Tea and What Benefits Does it Have?

Oolong tea represents only 2% of the world’s tea, but it’s well-worth discovering (1).

It combines the qualities of dark and green teas, giving it several interesting health benefits.
For example, it may boost metabolism and reduce stress, helping you feel great each day.
This article explains everything you need to know about oolong tea and its health benefits.

What is Oolong Tea?

Oolong tea is a traditional Chinese tea.
It’s made from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant, the same plant used to make green tea and black tea. The difference is in how the tea is processed.
All tea leaves contain certain enzymes, which produce a chemical reaction called oxidation. Oxidation is what turns the green tea leaves into a deep black color.
Green tea is not allowed to oxidize much, but black tea is allowed to oxidize until it turns black. Oolong tea is somewhere in between the two, so it is partially oxidized.
This partial oxidation is responsible for oolong tea’s color and characteristic taste (2).

This is what oolong tea looks like:

oolong-tea
However, the color of the leaves can vary between different brands, ranging from green to dark brown.

 

Bottom Line: Oolong tea is a traditional Chinese tea made from the partially oxidized leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant.

Nutrients in Oolong Tea

Similar to black and green teas, oolong tea contains several vitamins, minerals and helpful antioxidants.
A cup of brewed tea will contain approximately (34):
  • Fluoride: 5–24% of the RDI.
  • Manganese: 26% of the RDI.
  • Potassium: 1% of the RDI.
  • Sodium: 1% of the RDI.
  • Magnesium: 1% of the RDI.
  • Niacin: 1% of the RDI.
  • Caffeine: 36 mg.
Some of the main antioxidants in oolong tea, known as tea polyphenols, are theaflavins, thearubigins and EGCG. These are responsible for many of its health benefits (5).
Oolong tea also contains theanine, an amino acid responsible for the tea’s relaxing effect (6).
 
Bottom Line: In addition to caffeine, oolong tea contains vitamins, minerals, amino acids and beneficial tea polyphenol antioxidants.

Oolong Tea May Help Prevent Diabetes

The polyphenol antioxidants found in tea are thought to help reduce blood sugar and insulin levels. They’re also thought to increase insulin sensitivity (78).
Accordingly, several studies report links between regular tea consumption, improved blood sugar control and a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes (9101112).
However, the specific effects of oolong tea are generally not as well researched as those of green or black tea.
That being said, a recent review observed that those drinking 24 oz (720 ml) of oolong tea per day had a 16% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes (13).
Another study reported that diabetics who consumed 50 oz (1.5 liters) per day had up to 30% lower blood sugar levels at the end of a 30-day study (14).
Similarly, consuming 33 oz (1 liter) of oolong tea each day for 30 days decreased average blood sugar levels by 3.3% (15).
Nevertheless, not all studies agree and one even reports an increased risk of developing diabetes for those drinking 16 oz (480 ml) or more per day (161718).
Researchers cite pesticide contamination as a likely cause of the negative effects in this study, and do not recommend avoiding oolong tea because of it (18).

Bottom Line: The polyphenol antioxidants may help maintain normal blood sugar levels and decrease the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. However, the evidence is mixed and more research is needed.

Oolong Tea May Improve Heart Health

Regularly consuming tea antioxidants may also improve heart health (19).
Several studies of regular tea drinkers report reduced blood pressure and cholesterol levels, as well as a reduced risk of heart disease (2021222324).
In a recent study, people who drank more than 48 oz (1.4 liters) of tea per day were 51% less likely to have heart disease, compared to non-tea drinkers (25).
Several studies have also investigated oolong tea specifically.
One study of more than 76,000 Japanese adults observed that those who drank 8 oz (240 ml) or more of oolong tea per day had a 61% lower heart disease risk (26).
What’s more, a study done in China reports a 39% lower risk of stroke in those drinking 16 oz (480 ml) of oolong or green tea per day (27).
In addition, regularly consuming 4 oz (120 ml) of green or oolong tea per day may reduce your risk of developing high blood pressure by up to 46%. However, not all studies agree (2829).
One thing to remember is that oolong tea contains caffeine, which may slightly raise blood pressure in some people. That being said, this effect tends to fade with regular caffeine consumption (30313233).
Furthermore, since the caffeine content in an 8-oz (240-ml) cup is only about one-fourth of that found in the same amount of coffee, this effect is likely to be small.

Bottom Line: Oolong tea may help decrease the risk of heart disease, stroke and high blood pressure in some people.

Oolong Tea May Help You Lose Weight

Scientists believe that some of the polyphenols in oolong tea may boost metabolism and decrease the amount of fat absorbed from your diet (34353637).
These polyphenol antioxidants are also thought to activate enzymes that help you use stored fat for energy (37).
One study found that both full-strength and diluted oolong tea helped participants burn 2.9–3.4% more total calories per day (38).
This could be partially due to the caffeine content of tea, but tea polyphenols may also play a role. To test this idea, researchers compared the effects of caffeine alone to a combination of caffeine and tea polyphenols (3738).
Both increased the amount of calories burned by about 4.8%, but only the tea polyphenol and caffeine mix increased the participants’ fat burning ability (37).
This indicates that the fat burning effects of tea are also caused by the plant compounds in tea, not just the caffeine.
That being said, none of the studies clarified whether this increased energy expenditure and fat burning led to any substantial weight loss in humans.
Furthermore, some participants responded better than others, so the effects likely vary from person to person (37).
You can read more in this article about green tea and weight loss. Most of it should apply to oolong tea as well.

Bottom Line: The combination of caffeine and polyphenols found in oolong tea may help increase the amount of calories and fat burned each day. This could ultimately help speed up weight loss.

Oolong Tea May Improve Brain Function

Recent reviews show that tea may help maintain brain function and prevent Alzheimer’s disease (394041).
In fact, several components of tea may benefit brain function.
For starters, caffeine can increase the release of norepinephrine and dopamine. These two brain messengers are thought to benefit mood, attention and brain function (4243).
Further research shows that theanine, an amino acid in tea, may also help boost attention and relieve anxiety (44).
One recent study reports that tea containing both caffeine and theanine increased alertness and attention within the first 1–2 hours after consumption (44).
Tea polyphenols are also thought to have a calming effect, especially starting two hours after intake (44).
Few studies have looked specifically at oolong tea, but one found that regular tea drinkers had up to a 64% lower risk of brain function decline. This effect was particularly strong for regular black and oolong tea drinkers (45).
Another study linked regularly drinking green, black or oolong tea to improved cognition, memory, executive function and information processing speed (46).
Although not all studies observed the same beneficial effects of oolong tea on brain function, none were found that showed negative effects (47).

Bottom Line: The caffeine, antioxidant and theanine content of teas may have beneficial effects on brain function and mood.

May Protect Against Certain Cancers

Scientists believe the antioxidants present in black, green and oolong teas may help prevent cell mutations that can lead to cancer in the body (4849).
Tea polyphenols might also decrease the rate of cancer cell division (50).
What’s more, one review reports that regular tea drinkers may have a 15% lower risk of developing oral cancer (51).
Other reviews report similar protective effects for lung, esophageal, pancreatic, liver and colorectal cancers (525354555657).
However, most research reports that tea has small or non-existent effects on breast, ovarian and bladder cancers (585960).
Additionally, most research in this field focused on the effects of green or black teas, with the biggest effects noted for green teas.
Since oolong tea falls midway between green and black tea, similar benefits may be expected. However, more research is needed on oolong tea specifically.

Bottom Line: Similar to green and black tea, oolong tea may have protective effects against cancer.

Oolong Tea Promotes Tooth and Bone Strength

The antioxidants found in oolong tea may help keep your teeth and bones strong.
One study showed that people who drank black, green or oolong tea daily over a 10-year period had 2% higher overall bone mineral density (61).
A study of 680 postmenopausal Chinese women found that those who drank oolong tea regularly had 4.5–4.9% higher bone densities than non-tea-drinkers (62).
In addition, several other recent reviews report similar positive effects of tea on bone mineral density (6364).
A higher bone mineral density could lower the risk of fractures. However, the direct link between oolong tea and fractures has not been investigated yet.
Finally, research links tea consumption to reduced dental plaque. Oolong tea is also a rich source of fluoride, which could help strengthen tooth enamel (50).

Bottom Line: Oolong tea may help increase bone mineral density. It may also strengthen tooth enamel and reduce the formation of dental plaque.

Oolong Tea May Help Relieve Eczema

The polyphenols in tea may also help relieve eczema.
One study asked 118 patients with severe cases of eczema to drink 33 oz (1 liter) of oolong tea per day, in addition to maintaining their normal treatment.
Eczema symptoms improved as early as 1–2 weeks into the study. After 1 month of the combined treatment, 63% of patients showed improvement.
What’s more, the improvement persisted. They were still observed in 54% of the patients 5 months later (65).

Bottom Line: The polyphenol antioxidants in oolong tea may help relieve symptoms of eczema, and the improvements may last for a long time.

Safety and Side Effects

Oolong tea has been consumed for centuries and is generally considered to be safe.
That being said, it does contain caffeine.
When consumed in excess, caffeine can lead to anxiety, headaches, insomnia, irregular heartbeat and in some, high blood pressure (66676869).
Additionally, consuming too many polyphenol antioxidants can make them act as pro-oxidants, which are not good for your health. Excess intake may occur from taking polyphenol supplements, but this is unlikely from simply drinking tea (66).
The flavonoids in tea can also bind the iron found in plant foods, reducing absorption from the digestive system by 15–67% (70).
Those with low iron levels should avoid drinking tea with meals and consider consuming vitamin C-rich foods to help increase iron absorption (71).
Both the USDA and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) consider daily intakes of 400 mg of caffeine as safe. This is equivalent to 48–80 oz of oolong tea (1.4–2.4 liters) per day (7273).
Given that the average cup is 8 oz (240 ml), you could drink a total of 6–10 cups of oolong tea per day without consuming too much caffeine.
However, pregnant women are advised to stick to a maximum of 200 mg of caffeine, which is about 3-5 cups of oolong tea per day (74).
Keep in mind that coffee, soda, energy drinks and chocolate also contain caffeine. So if you’re trying to reduce your intake, make sure to account for these sources as well.

Bottom Line: Drinking up to 10 cups of oolong tea per day is generally considered to be safe for most people.

Take Home Message

Oolong tea may not be as well known as green or black tea, but it has similar health benefits. These include benefits for heart, brain, bone and dental health.
In addition, it may boost your metabolism, decrease your risk of developing type 2 diabetes and protect against certain types of cancer.
At the end of the day, oolong tea is an incredibly healthy and tasty addition to your lifestyle. Give it a try — you won’t be disappointed.


5 Comments

8 Everyday Activities That Increase Your Mental Health

Which of these uncomplicated activities to you do most days?

Do these most days and it will help protect your mental health.

1. Dwell on the positive

Positive memories could be used as a way to help boost mental well-being, new research finds.

People in the study were asked to focus on positive social memories.

Participants focused on their own positive feelings from that memory as well as on the positive feelings of the other person.

The results showed that people felt socially safer and more positive and relaxed after the exercise.

At the same time feelings of guilt and fear were reduced.

2. Drink some tea

Tea is both calming and can make you feel more alert.

It improves cognitive performance in the short-term and may help fight Alzheimer’s in the long-term.

Finally, it is linked to better mental health.

I’ll raise a cup to that!

From: Tea: 6 Brilliant Effects on the Brain

3. Be calm about minor irritations

Dealing with the minor stresses and strains of everyday life in a positive way is key to long-term health, a new study finds.

The research found that people who remained calm or cheerful in the face of irritations had a lower risk of inflammation.

brain

4. Don’t watch the news

Viewing violent news events on social media can cause symptoms similar to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

A recent study has found that almost one-quarter of individuals had PTSD-like symptoms from following events like 9/11 and suicide bombings on social media.

The more people viewed the events, researchers found, the greater the subsequent trauma they experienced.

5. Get your micronutrients

Despite consuming more calories than ever, many people do not get their recommended intake of brain-essential nutrients, a new study reports.

The study explains the best way of getting the required nutrients:

“A traditional whole-food diet, consisting of higher intakes of foods such as vegetables, fruits, seafood, whole grains, lean meat, nuts, and legumes, with avoidance of processed foods, is more likely to provide the nutrients that afford resiliency against the pathogenesis of mental disorders.”

6. Look out the window

People who live with a water view have better mental health, new research finds.

Don’t live near water? Any sort of green space or even a grassy rooftop will do just as well.

7. A little activity

Compared with inactivity, even ‘mild’ levels of physical activity are linked to 50% better mental health, a new study finds.

The more exercise people performed, the more protected they were against mental disorders, the research also found.

But both low and high levels of exercise were also linked to more than 50% reductions in the risk of suffering mental illness compared with being inactive.

8. Brush your teeth

Brushing your teeth regularly could reduce the risk of dementia by more than one-quarter, new research finds.

People with fewer than 20 teeth are 26% more likely to develop cognitive problems that could lead to Alzheimer’s.

It is thought that chewing increases the blood-flow to the brain, thereby improving memory.

source: PsyBlog


1 Comment

12 Foods to Help You Focus

by: Emily Holland

Staying focused in today’s world can be a challenge. Technology presents countless distractions. The constant ping from your smartphone—alerting you to the latest social media notification or text message—can cause even the most focused individual to become scattered.

But technology isn’t solely to blame. Stress can add to the challenge. Aging can also play a role as your ability to ignore distractions can decline as you get older.

What many people may not realize is that diet can influence their ability to focus. Certain foods provide the brain with the necessary nourishment to help you concentrate. Many people are quick to turn to coffee for a cognitive boost. However, a variety of other options can enhance your ability to focus, while also providing a wealth of other health benefits.

Walnuts

A 2015 study conducted by researchers at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA found a positive association between walnut consumption and cognitive functioning in adults, including the ability to concentrate. According to the findings published in the Journal of Nutrition, Health and Aging, consuming a handful of walnuts per day can lead to cognitive benefits, regardless of age. Walnuts, in comparison to other nuts, contain the highest-level of antioxidants, which help to promote brain function. They also contain alpha-linolenic acid, a plant-based omega-3 fatty acid that is important for brain health and development. Because walnuts are relatively high in fat and calories, no more than an ounce per day is recommended.

Blueberries

Blueberries are also high in antioxidants, particularly anthocyanin, which has been shown to fight inflammation and improve cognitive brain functions. Blueberries make for the perfect snack since they are low in calories, but high in nutrients such as fiber, manganese, vitamin K,  and vitamin C. When they aren’t in season, opt for dried or frozen blueberries.

Salmon

Salmon is full of omega-3 fatty acids, an essential fat that may slow cognitive decline and possibly lower the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, according to a 2005 study conducted by Rush University in Chicago. It also helps fight inflammation, which has been associated with a decrease in cognitive function.

Avocados

In addition to salmon, avocados are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids and also contain monounsaturated fats, which support brain function and healthy blood flow to the brain. Avocados are also high in vitamin E, a necessary nutrient for optimal brain health that may slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, studies show. Like walnuts, avocados are fatty and contain a lot of calories. The recommended serving is about 1/5 of a regular-sized avocado (or 1 oz.).

Extra-Virgin Olive Oil

Extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO) is loaded with antioxidants, which have been shown in mice to improve memory and learning deficits that occur as a result of aging and disease. EVOO can also reverse damage in the brain caused by oxidative stress, an imbalance between free radicals and the body’s antioxidant defenses, according to a 2012 study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. EVOO is great to use as a healthy alternative to processed salad dressings.

Olive oil

Pumpkin Seeds

Nutrient-rich pumpkin seeds make for a quick and easy snack while providing proper nutrition to help promote focus and concentration. High in antioxidants and omega-3s, pumpkin seeds are also a rich source of zinc, an essential mineral that promotes brain function and helps prevent neurological diseases, according to research conducted in 2001 by the University of Shizuoka in Japan.

Leafy Greens

A 2015 study by researchers at Rush University found dark, leafy greens, such as spinach, kale, and collards, might help slow cognitive decline. Over a five-year span, they examined diet and cognitive abilities in older adults. They saw a significant decrease in the rate of cognitive decline in those who consumed larger amounts of dark, leafy greens. In fact, those who had one to two daily servings were found to have the cognitive abilities of a person 11 years younger. Researchers also found that the nutrients, vitamin K and folate were most likely responsible for keeping the brain healthy and preserving functioning.

Eggs

Eggs are a good source of protein, are rich in omega-3s, and contain choline, a vital nutrient for brain development. A 2011 study published in The American Journal of Clinic Nutrition found a high-level intake of choline improved cognitive performance. Eggs also contain B12, a vitamin that keeps the brain and nervous system healthy. So beat, scramble, poach, and flip to eat those eggs and reap the rewards.

Yogurt

Yogurt contains probiotics, often referred to as the “good” bacteria that help promote digestive health, which can lead to a healthier brain. A 2013 UCLA study found that women who regularly ate yogurt exhibited improved brain function while at rest or in response to completing a task. Yogurt is also high in B12 and magnesium, two essential nutrients for brain health.

Oatmeal

Whole grains provide energy. Oatmeal—slow-cooked whole oats, not the ready-cook kind from a packet—not only makes for a healthy breakfast, it also leaves you feeling full, which is important as hunger can diminish mental focus. For maximum clarity, try a bowl of oatmeal topped with walnuts and blueberries.

Dark Chocolate

Chocolate, which is a stimulant, can provide you with an energy boost similar to a cup of coffee. A 2015 study by researchers at Northern Arizona University found participants who consumed 60 percent cacao content chocolate to be more alert and attentive. Chocolate is also high in antioxidants accounting for many of its health benefits. Just remember to choose dark chocolate over a milk chocolate candy bar filled with sugar.

Peppermint Tea

The herb peppermint may improve cognitive performance and increase alertness as well as calmness, according to a 2012 study by researchers at Northumbria University in the UK. Enjoy the health benefits by brewing a hot cup of peppermint tea or by simply smelling the herb.

Add five drops of peppermint essential oil to a warm bath or rub it lightly into your skin.

About the Author
Emily Holland
Emily is a certified Health Coach with a focus on stress and anxiety management. A combined interest in healthy living and human behavior led Emily to pursue a certification in health coaching at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition as well as a master’s degree in General Psychology. She’s a freelance writer; you can find more of her work on her website, http://www.mindfulmotives.com.


1 Comment

The 10 Best Meals to Eat When You Feel Your Worst

Hippocrates had it right when he said, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” When your body feels out of whack, certain foods can help set you back on the right track.
By Rachael Schultz

When you have a headache

Eat: Moroccan lentil soup made with spices like turmeric and cinnamon. “This meal is free of potential headache triggers like dairy, cured meat, nuts, and chocolate. Plus, it also doesn’t require chewing, which can aggravate a headache,” says Cynthia Sass, RD, author of Slim Down Now: Shed Pounds and Inches With Pulses — The New Superfood. The soup also delivers a good dose of protein, anti-inflammatory spices, and magnesium—which helps relax blood vessels to ease headaches. You can also try these other home remedies to soothe headaches.

When you have sinus pressure

Eat: anything spicy—the heat in chili peppers can help clear up types of sinus inflammation, according to research from the University of Cincinnati Academic Health Center.

When you have a sore throat

Eat: soup made with a hot, thin broth (either vegetable- or chicken-stock base), with garlic, herbs, and vegetables; plus hot green tea with honey. For starters, both hot liquids will help drain congestion, Sass explains. “The garlic is anti-inflammatory and immune-supporting, the veggies provide nutrients for healing, and honey has been shown to help ease the pain from a sore throat,” she adds. These sore throat gargles are another trick to feel better.

When you have nausea

Eat: bananas, steamed brown rice, applesauce, and ginger tea, Sass suggests. Each of these foods is easy to keep down and tends to soothe the digestive system. Opt for tea bags with real ginger in it (like Yogi Ginger or Tazo Green Ginger) or better yet, steep some of the herb fresh in hot water. A University of Rochester study found that as little as a quarter of a teaspoon of ginger cut nausea by 40 percent in queasy chemotherapy patients.

When you have fatigue

Eat: There isn’t a one-size-fits-all remedy for this one, since the fix largely depends on the cause of fatigue. Your best bet? A leafy green salad topped with chopped vegetables and grilled salmon to give a boost of vitamins, minerals, and omega 3s, which will in turn increase your energy. Be sure to hydrate, since dehydration alone is enough to slow your energy down, says nutritionist and health coach Emily Littlefield, founder of Emily’s Powerfoods Living. If the fatigue is from a lack of sleep, avoid caffeine. “It may seem counterintuitive, but the temporary Band-Aid of coffee or an energy drink will only provide a brief false sense of energy, usually followed by even more intense fatigue, then trouble sleeping, which perpetuates the cycle,” Sass explains.

Black Tea Linked to Lower Diabetes Risk

When you have menstrual cramps

Drink: a pot of hot ginger tea with a little honey and lemon. “Ginger root is soothing and calming and has been used for healing stomach pain for centuries,” says Littlefield. A study in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that ginger was just as effective in relieving menstrual cramp pain as ibuprofen (whoa!). Plus, proper hydration can help reduce tension in certain muscles that contribute to menstrual cramping. These unusual period cramp remedies are also worth a try.

When you have constipation

Eat: oatmeal topped with a fiber-rich fruit and a mug of hot water with lemon. The goal here is to get your stool moving. “The fiber from the oats and fruit helps to soften stool,” Sass explains. “The drink will help stimulate your digestive muscles to contract and move waste through.” Here are other natural cures for constipation.

When you have diarrhea

Drink: a sports drink or Pedialyte, to start, Sass suggests. “The top goal is replacing fluids and electrolytes while diarrhea is active,” she says. Once it stops, continue to rehydrate, but start eating foods that are easy to digest, like bananas and brown rice. If you eat your usual fare, it can overstimulate digestive muscles or trigger unwanted inflammation or irritation, she adds. You can also soothe your stomach with these diarrhea home remedies.

When you have brain fog

Eat: two eggs any style; a whole-grain, low-sugar waffle (like Vans); and cup of black coffee. Countless studies have found that caffeine improves both alertness and attention. Between eggs and the waffle, you’ll score the perfect balance of fat, protein, and healthy carbohydrates to help avoid blood sugar dips that make you feel foggy.

When you have stress

Drink: a combo of chamomile and mint herbal teas. Refill indefinitely until you feel the hot drink calm your nervous system, Littlefield suggests. Avoid anything high in trans fats or in sugar, which a study in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology found can exacerbate other health problems that accompany stress, such as oxidative damage and the accumulation of abdominal fat, which can make you feel even worse than you already do.

source: www.rd.com


4 Comments

5 Foods are Essential for Longevity

110-Year-Old Man Says These 5 Foods are Essential for Longevity

Secrets to a long, healthy life

A man named Bernardo LaPallo is over 110 years old, although most would think he is younger. Like many living to be his age, LaPallo credits his long life with eating a lot of organic fruit and vegetables, while avoiding other foods like the plague. He especially recognizes these 5 foods, a secret passed down to him by his father which he believes is the key to his longevity.

So What Are the 5 foods?

1. Garlic – If you aren’t already a fan of garlic, you will likely load up your kitchen with the food after reading all it has to offer. From preventing cancer to detoxifying the body, to treating ailments like a toothache or cough, here are some of the health benefits of garlic.

2. Honey – Honey has long been among the top superfoods used to treat countless health conditions and boost overall health. This amazing bee-product possesses antibacterial, antifungal, antiseptic, and antioxidant properties – making it one of the most beneficial foods to consume.

3. Cinnamon – Particularly rich in fiber, manganese, and calcium while being used for thousands of years as a flavorful spice and medicine, cinnamon truly has made it’s mark in numerous cultures. It can be especially helpful in aiding with diabetes, preventing cancer, and halting arthritis.

4. Chocolate – The real, unadulterated form of chocolate, derived from the Theobroma cacao tree, is a heaven-sent super food that can keep us healthy even as we indulge in its delectable taste. Real chocoalte is packed full of plant-derived flavanols, full of antioxidants, anti-inflammatory constituents and health-boosting ingredients that do all sorts of amazing things for our bodies and minds.

5. Olive oil – Olive oil is rich in beneficial fats which keep both your heart and brain healthy, preventing cognitive decline and risk of cardiovascular disease.
Of course there are other longevity secrets shared by the most elder. Lifestyle is the most important factor in determining not only how long you live, but the quality of your long life. It turns out the people from a small island off the coast of Japan, Okinawa, have figured out a secret recipe for living to be more than 100 years old. Some of their secrets:

vitamin-e

 

8 Other Longevity Secrets

1. Exercise both physically and mentally.

2. Consume a diet low in salt, high in fruits and vegetables, and contain plenty of fiber and antioxidants.

3. Don’t overeat. Practice what is called hara hachi bu, which means “8 parts out of 10, full,” and never eat so that they are stuffed, but just mostly sated.

4. Consume a diet high in vitamin E, which helps keep the brain vital.

5. Drink Herbal Tea. The Ikarians, who also live long, fruitful lives, love herbal tea. The health benefits of green tea are amazing, so this may be your first choice.

6. Take a Nap. Something as simple as an afternoon siesta can reduce your risk of cardiovascular problems including heart attack, and it can help you feel more energized and well-rested in the afternoon.

7. Eat fresh Vegetables. Among the obvious secrets of longevity, consuming vegetables is key, whether they be full vegetables or the more healthful microgreens. Ikaria boasts over 150 varieties of greens.

8. Relax. Reducing stress is becoming more well known among the secrets of longevity and good health. Stress can greatly increase your risk of numerous diseases as well as dangerous behavior. Ask Ikarians what time it is. They probably won’t know—or care.

Mike Barrett       DECEMBER 23, 2014

About Mike Barrett:
Mike is the co-founder, editor, and researcher behind Natural Society. Studying the work of top natural health activists, and writing special reports for top 10 alternative health websites, Mike has written hundreds of articles and pages on how to obtain optimum wellness through natural health.


Leave a comment

Why You Should Have Ginger Every Day

by Jonathan Galland   October 19, 2015

Ginger is a treasure in Asian cuisine, where it’s cherished for its unique ability to bring a touch of tanginess to dishes. Its distinctive lemony aroma and touch of spiciness can awaken the flavors of favorite recipes.

But ginger’s amazing role in cooking is just the start — the spice is also well-known for its many medicinal benefits. For centuries, ginger has been used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat colds, stomachaches, nausea, indigestion, constipation, and diarrhea.

In traditional Chinese medicine, sliced or grated ginger is boiled in water as a soup to help fend off early signs of a cold. And it’s often the last resort for those who suffer motion sickness when pills won’t work. (A freshly cut ginger slice is either placed in the mouth or on the belly button with a Band-Aid.)

Right into the modern age, ginger is still the go-to herbal remedy for those who believe in natural healing.

And science is now catching up. Here are some of the research-backed revelations about the powerful benefits of this exotic spice:

1. It’s anti-inflammatory.

Ginger contains dozens of the most potent natural inflammation-fighting substances, like gingerols. The ability for food to reduce inflammation is important, as inflammation contributes to many chronic conditions including obesity, diabetes, pain, and heart disease.

2. It’s anti-aging.

Ginger also has powerful antioxidant effects. It raises levels of the master antioxidant glutathione in the body. And by fighting oxidative stress, ginger helps control the process of aging.

3. It reduces pain from exercise.

One study found that eating ginger before cycling reduced quadriceps muscle pain, likely thanks to its anti-inflammatory effects.

4. It assists with weight loss.

Research shows that ginger tea helps prevent metabolic disorders and reduces the feeling of hunger, meaning it plays a role in weight management.

ginger

5. It helps treat anemia.

Ginger and its bioactive components, such as gingerols and shogaols, stimulate the production of blood cells in the body and can improve anemia symptoms.

6. It can help manage diabetes.

One study showed that ginger can improve fasting blood sugar in type 2 diabetes patients. And scientists have discovered that combining honey and ginger reduces oxidative stress as well as the complications of diabetes.

This is especially important, given that the number of people with diabetes across the world is predicted to increase from 171 million in 2000 to 552 million by 2030.

7. It helps prevent Alzheimer’s disease.

Since ancient times, natural compounds of ginger have been appreciated for their use in preventing various age-related ailments, including brain aging and neuro-degeneration. Recent studies have emphasized ginger’s benefits in treating Alzheimer’s disease.

8. It can ease symptoms of osteoarthritis.

In traditional Indonesian medicine, red ginger has been prescribed to relieve arthritis pain.

Now, an unprecedented study has found that topical ginger treatment using either a traditional manually prepared ginger compress or a standardized ginger patch could relieve symptoms for people with chronic osteoarthritis.

9. It can prevent liver disease.

Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a common liver disease that’s quickly turning into an epidemic. Insulin resistance is a major feature in patients with NAFLD.

But research has shown that gingerols, the active component of ginger, could help improve insulin resistance, serving as a natural way to prevent NAFLD.

How to Spice Up Your Life with Ginger

Shop for whole ginger root in the vegetable aisle, looking for ginger that is firm to the touch and not wilted, dried out, or moldy. To use fresh ginger, remove the skin and cut a section of the yellow root. Finely chop the ginger, and it’s ready to use.

You can also make fresh ginger tea by adding finely chopped ginger to boiled water, letting it steep for two to three minutes, and then straining out the ginger.


1 Comment

Foods That Double as Medicine

By Ben Smart, Special to CNN      Wed July 29, 2015

(CNN)A typical visit to the doctor might leave you with a bottle of pills and instructions to take them twice daily.

But a small, growing number of physicians are “prescribing” foods not only for weight management, but also to prevent and treat chronic diseases.

CNN spoke with medical nutrition experts to unearth the specific foods they recommend. And you don’t have to be a chef or nutritionist to take advantage of these healthy choices.

While one food might be recommended as treatment for a specific ailment, it’s important to remember that a single food item doesn’t work in isolation, said Dr. Melina Jampolis, a board-certified physician nutrition specialist.

“True nutrition experts prefer to speak about dietary patterns or groups of foods, as nutrients in foods work in combination to improve certain conditions,” Jampolis said.

However, there are notable exceptions to this rule, said Dr. John La Puma, a practicing physician and professionally trained chef. Here are 10 you may want to stock your kitchen with before reaching in the medicine cabinet.

Buckwheat honey for a cough

Derived from the bee nectar of flowers of the buckwheat grain, buckwheat honey might eventually make its way into every parent’s medicine cabinet.

“Buckwheat honey is better than cough syrup for nocturnal cough in kids,” according to La Puma. This is an especially useful food-as-medicine for children under 6 but older than age 1, who are ill-advised to take over-the-counter cough medicines.

“Foods can work like medicine in the body — and they do,” said La Puma.

Pickled foods for diarrhea

Fermented foods include yogurt, kefir, pickled vegetables, miso, kimchi and poi. These foods contain living bacteria that help maintain the health of the digestive tract, said Dr. Gerard Mullin, associate professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and author of “The Gut Balance Revolution.”

These bacteria-filled foods can be used to prevent and treat antibiotic-associated diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome, infantile diarrhea, eczema and allergies, according to Mullin. “But the hottest use of fermented foods is to burn stubborn fat,” Mullin said.

A study from 2012 that reviewed data from 82 clinical trials found probiotic foods were indeed effective at treating antibiotic-associated diarrhea. However, the data for using probiotics as a treatment for eczema are mixed. Some research found supporting evidence while other studies did not.

Ginger for menstrual cramps

Ginger is a pungent spice originating from Southeast Asia. “As a digestive disease specialist I frequently recommend the spice ginger in the form of tea for nausea and abdominal discomfort,” said Mullin.

Ginger could also be a helpful food-as-medicine for women. “Ginger probably works as well as ibuprofen for menstrual cramps. It works taken as a ginger capsule or chewed,” said La Puma.

One scientific review of seven clinical trials found that 750 to 2000 milligrams of ginger powder taken during the first four days of menstrual cycle was an effective treatment for cramps.

Peppermint for IBS

Think beyond candy canes and chewing gum. Peppermint is also found in supplement, essential oil and tea forms. When used medicinally, peppermint is prescribed to help treat abdominal cramping and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

“What I find interesting about peppermint is that when compared to the various medical therapies for IBS, peppermint is the most effective and the least toxic,” Mullin told CNN.

Peppermint oil is effective — and could be the first line of treatment — against irritable bowel syndrome, according to a 2005 scientific review of 16 clinical trials.

Hibiscus Tea

 

Hibiscus tea for high blood pressure

“Hibiscus tea has a greater anti-hypertensive effect than blueberries,” said La Puma. Infused as an herbal tea, hibiscus flowers contain anthocyanins, which could help to lower blood pressure.

The steeples of the flower are dried and made into a tea drink, which has a tart cranberry taste, La Puma said.

Multiple studies back up the blood-pressure-lowering abilities of hibiscus, including one published in the Nigerian Journal of Physiological Sciences.

Turmeric for arthritis

Native to southwest India, turmeric has a warm, bitter flavor. Used medicinally, Jampolis recommends turmeric to help treat inflammatory conditions.

“Turmeric is used especially for brain-related conditions and to decrease the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. It can be also be used for arthritis,” said Jampolis.

Add black pepper to turmeric to maximize the disease-fighting benefits. “This helps your body absorb more of the curcumin, which is the active ingredient in turmeric that delivers the positive health effects,” said La Puma.

Indeed, an article published in the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology explains the various disease-fighting benefits of turmeric.

Chia seeds for high cholesterol

Despite their tiny size, chia seeds are nutrient-dense and often labeled as a “superfood.”

Dr. Jampolis said she recommends them to patients with high LDL cholesterol as a bonus to other healthy food choices. “I can actually say that I’ve seen great results just adding chia seeds to an already healthy diet for lowering cholesterol,” said Jampolis.

Steel-cut oatmeal for high LDL cholesterol

“This is a no-brainer for lowering LDL if you haven’t tried anything else,” said La Puma. “There are lots of studies showing that foods high in soluble fiber lower LDL cholesterol.”

One such study found that eating at least 3 grams of oats daily is associated with lower LDL cholesterol levels.

Try mixing in a spoonful of chia seeds to maximize the cholesterol-lowering impact.

Beans for high blood sugar levels

Beans are useful in lowering blood sugar levels and managing high cholesterol, according to Jampolis. And because they’re loaded with fiber, beans can help induce that “full” feeling to help with weight loss.

“I have certainly seen improvements in blood sugar with encouraging more fiber-rich foods like beans that are also rich in magnesium, but it is harder to isolate that effect alone,” said Jampolis.

Salmon for inflamation

With its pink-orange hue and distinct smell, salmon is one of the best dietary sources of omega-3 fatty acids. These essential fats are an important part of treating any inflammatory or autoimmune condition, according to Dr. Jampolis.

Jampolis also recommends salmon to those dealing with high triglyceride levels, metabolic syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis or MS.

“I think most people think food can’t possibly be as potent as drugs, but I see the powerful direct benefits all the time,” said Jampolis.

source: www.cnn.com


3 Comments

9  Powerful Eating Habits to Protect Your Brain From Alzheimer’s

Everything from how you cook meat to what you eat for dessert
can play a role in your brain health.

Here, how to eat to prevent dementia and Alzheimer’s.

by Kenneth S. Kosik, MD

There is no one best dietary pattern when it comes to eating for optimum brain health. Nor is there one magical food or supplement. Instead, a wide range of eating patterns—Asian eating, the MIND diet, the Mediterranean diet, vegan eating—has been shown to protect your brain. Although those eating patterns vary—for example, some include meat, others don’t; some place a heavy emphasis on fish, others suggest no fish—they all tend to have one thing in common: a preponderance of antioxidant-rich plant foods.

Plants manufacture antioxidant chemicals to protect themselves from ultra- violet light and disease. When we eat these plants—in the form of fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds, and grains—we consume this built-in protection, and their antioxidants can then protect our cells from disease, too. This includes disease protection for cells in the brain, and we know this, in part, thanks to beagles.

Carl Cotman, a professor of neurology at the University of California, Irvine, and other researchers have studied how kibble enriched with tomatoes, carrots, citrus, spinach, and antioxidant supplements (vitamins E and C, lipoic acid, and carnitine) affects the brains of beagles. He and his team divided the dogs into four groups. One control group ate a regular diet. A second group ate the enriched kibble that included the equivalent of six servings of fruits and vegetables. A third group ate regular kibble but were offered the canine equivalent of daily school education: an abundance of exercise, playtime with other dogs, and access to novel toys. The final group ate the enriched kibble and went to dog school.

Brain Smart eating isn’t about gorging on just blueberries or chia seeds or some other healthy food du jour. Many different foods and different dietary patterns have been shown to protect us from Alzheimer’s disease.

As the study progressed, the researchers repeatedly tested the dogs with increasingly difficult learning problems. In one, the dogs had to learn whether a treat was hidden under a black or a white block. Overall, the dogs in the combined group—the ones who played, exercised, and ate fruit-and-veggie-packed kibble—did the best on the learning tasks. No surprises there, as playtime and intellectual enrichment are just as powerful Brain Smarts as good nutrition. But even the dogs who only ate the enriched kibble and who were not offered extra playtime performed better than the dogs who only ate regular kibble. Sixty percent of them were able to continually find the hidden treat, whereas only 25 percent of the dogs who ate regular kibble could do the same.

Antioxidant-rich foods are just one important component of a Brain Smart eating pattern. In addition to antioxidants, many foods also contain substances that lower inflammation throughout the body and brain, as well as nutrients needed for cells to do their jobs.

All of these nutrients seem to work together to create good health. It’s for this reason that there is no one food or beverage to consume for good health. Brain Smart eating isn’t about gorging on just blueberries or chia seeds or some other healthy food du jour. It’s not even about just one specific eating pattern. It turns out that many different foods and different dietary patterns have been shown to protect us from Alzheimer’s disease, and this is great news for all of us. It allows us the freedom to tailor our Brain Smart food choices to our personal tastes and lifestyle. Consider embarking on one of the following Brain Smart eating patterns—or perhaps even a combination of them.

Chia

1. Fill up on fewer calories: Start your meals with veggie-packed salads or soups, or use small plates to trick your brain into thinking your meals look bigger than they actually are. Filling up on fewer calories allows you to shed pounds, which can help reverse other risks for Alzheimer’s disease, including sleep apnea, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Cutting your daily intake of calories by 30 to 50 percent also reduces your metabolic rate and therefore slows oxidation throughout the body, including the brain. It lowers blood glucose and insulin levels, too.

2. Eat at least five servings of fruit and vegetables every day. Higher vegetable consumption was associated with slower rate of cognitive decline in 3,718 people aged 65 years and older who participated in the Chicago Health and Aging Project. Study participants filled out food logs and agreed to undergo tests of their cognitive abilities periodically for six years. All of the study participants scored lower on cognitive tests at the end of the study than they did at the beginning, but those who consumed more than four daily servings of vegetables experienced a 40 percent slower decline in their abilities than people who consumed less than one daily serving.

3. Use spices liberally. Herbs and spices add flavor to food, allowing you to cut back on butter, oil, and salt. Because they come from plants, many herbs and spices also contain antioxidants and offer many healing benefits, including Alzheimer’s prevention. Several different studies show that curcumin, for example, helps to reduce the risk of cancer, arthritis, depression, and Alzheimer’s disease. Just a quarter teaspoon of the spice twice a day has been shown to reduce fasting blood sugar up to 29 percent in people with type 2 diabetes. This is important, because type 2 diabetes can raise your risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease.

4. Marinate meat before cooking. When fat, protein, and sugar react with heat, certain harmful compounds form called advanced glycation end products (AGEs). They are found in particularly high levels in bacon, sausages, processed meats, and fried and grilled foods. The consumption of high amounts of AGEs has been shown to cause harmful changes in the brain. But there’s an easy way to slash your AGE consumption: Make your food (especially meats) as moist as possible. By boiling, braising, poaching, or marinating meat and fish before grilling or broiling, you allow moisture to permeate their flesh, dramatically reducing the AGEs.

5. Eat coldwater fish once a week. Fish that swim in cold waters tend to develop a layer of fat to keep them warm. Called omega-3 fatty acid, this type of fat has been shown to reduce inflammation throughout the body when consumed by humans. In a study of 815 people, people who consumed fish at least once a week reduced their Alzheimer’s disease risk by 60 percent compared to people who rarely or never ate fish.

6. Snack on nuts and seeds. In addition to being a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, nuts and seeds also provide a good dose of selenium and vitamin E, two other nutrients that may promote brain health. Walnuts may be a particularly potent source of edible brain protection. In addition to omega-3 fatty acids, walnuts are rich in antioxidants that have been shown to reduce Alzheimer’s disease in mice.

7. Drink several cups of tea a day. Black and green tea are rich sources of antioxidants called catechins that may fend off oxidative damage throughout the body, including the brain. Green tea is also a rich source of epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), which has been shown to reduce beta-amyloid plaque and tau tangles in mice. Tea has also been shown to drop blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

8. Enjoy coffee in the morning. Caffeine consumed too late in the day may disturb your sleep. But coffee consumed in the morning and perhaps the early afternoon, depending on your personal caffeine sensitivity, may reduce risk. Coffee contains a chemical called eicosanoyl-5-hydroxytryptamide (EHT) that, in studies done on rats, has been shown to protect against Alzheimer’s disease. The caffeine itself may also be protective: Mice developed fewer tau tangles in their brains when their drinking water was infused with caffeine. In humans, Johns Hopkins researchers have shown that 200 milligrams of caffeine—the amount in one strong cup of coffee—can help us consolidate memories and more easily memorize new information.

9. End dinner with dark chocolate—not chocolate cake. Most desserts are rich in blood-sugar-spiking sugar, and recent research has linked high blood sugar levels with oxidative damage as well as an elevated production of beta-amyloid protein plaque. Chocolate, however, may be one exception. Chocolate contains antioxidant chemicals called flavonoids, protective substances also present in many brightly colored fruits and vegetables. Baby boomers who consumed chocolate-rich drinks twice a day for three months performed as well on memory tests as did people a few decades younger. In part of the same study, tests revealed that the chocolate drinks also seemed to improve blood flow to the hippocampi regions of the brain.

source: www.rd.com