Although my monkey mind—as Buddhists describe unsettled, restless thinking—sometimes drives me nuts, I must admit: I’m hopelessly dependent on my brain. And the thought of it letting me down more often as I get older is well, terrifying. How to best feed and care for your one-and-only brain?
Try these tips from Martha Howard, MD, of ChicagoHealers.com.
1. Avoid chemicals as much as possible. Avoid off-gassing paints and strippers, carpet, and furniture, which are often made with toxic solvents, flame retardants, and stain resisting chemicals.
2. Drink water. Dehydration actually cause brain damage, so aim for at least 8 glasses a day. Sports drinks with dyes and sugars don’t count.
3. Take fish oil. Low omega-3 EFA levels are linked to lower intellectual performance and dementia. Your brain is made up of one-third DHA and EPA, fish oil’s active ingredients. Supplement with at least 600 mg daily, and eat low-contaminant fish such as sardines, flaxseed, hempseed, and chia seeds.
4. Eat fresh fruits and vegetables. Highest antioxidant players, according to USDA are: blueberries, blackberries, cranberries, strawberries, spinach, raspberries, Brussels sprouts, plums, broccoli, beets, avocados, oranges, red grapes, red bell peppers, cherries, and kiwis. Eat at least five (half-cup) servings a day.
5. Drink green tea. Shown to prevent build-up of plaque in brains, it also prevents strokes—and improves mental alertness.
6. Eat eggs. They’re rich in choline, a fat-like B vitamin that can improve memory and help with fatigue.
7. Get exercise. Greater blood circulation means more oxygen to the brain, and more production of mood-enhancing endorphins.
8. Meditate. The frequencies of deep meditation allow a unique “brain rest” and enhances connection between right and left brain hemispheres.
9. Try these supplements.
- Alpha Lipoic acid (aLa). This fat- and water-soluble antioxidant supplement can get into the brain easily to “mop up” harmful free radicals.
- Acetyl-L-Carnitine. Taken with ALA, this boosts production of the neurotransmitter "acetylcholine," which is required for mental function. Double-blind clinical trials suggest acteyl-L-carnitine helps the performance of people with Alzheimer’s, and delays the progression of the disease.
- Phosphatidyl Serine. This supplement actually stimulates cells brain cells to make new dendrites and axons. People who take it report better short-term memory.