8 Foods to Keep Your Brain Young and Healthy

Senility, Alzheimer's, and age-related memory loss: these conditions of mental decline that come with aging can be delayed or even prevented.

Senility, Alzheimer's, and age-related memory loss: these conditions of mental decline that come with aging can be delayed or even prevented. Besides engaging in daily activities that work out your brain, a regular and balanced diet rich with essential amino acids, omega oils, minerals and vitamins will ensure a vibrant and sharp memory. Eat these foods to give your brain the nutrition it needs.

1. Fish
Protein, an important component in the making of neurotransmitters, is essential to improve mental performance. Aside from being an excellent source of high quality protein, fish are packed with essential oils, such as Omega-3, which protect the brain and supports its development and functioning. Deep sea fish have the highest amounts of fatty acids, and they include salmon, sea bass, halibut, mackerel, and sardines.

2. Blueberries
These delicious berries are full of powerful antioxidants, which eliminate free-radical damage that causes aging, and they also possess neuroprotective properties that can delay the onset of age-related memory loss by guarding brain cells from damage caused by chemicals, plaque, or trauma. And they combat inflammation, the other factor in aging.

3. Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds are wonder foods for your brain. Packed with protein and essential fatty acids, nuts and seeds are also chock full of the amino arginine, which stimulates the pituitary gland at the base of the brain to release growth hormone, a substance that declines quickly after age 35; this is a real anti-aging boon to your brain! 

Whip up a batch of my "Anti-aging brain mix" to bring with you anywhere and eat a small handful in between meals as a daily snack. It will nourish and support your brain. Pack in sealed container or zip-lock bag to preserve freshness.

  • 1 cup walnut
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1/3 cup of dried goji berries (also known as lycium berry, and easily found in health food stores)
  • 1/2 cup dried apricots

4. Cruciferous Vegetables
Broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts are all rich in choline, an essential nutrient for memory and brain health. Choline is a precursor to the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which contributes to healthy and efficient brain processes. As we age, our body's natural choline output declines, and its neurochemical action weakens. You can eat choline-rich foods to increase your production of acetylcholine, which will improve your brain power.

Other sources of choline include: eggs, soybeans, peanuts, cabbage, black beans, and kidney beans.

5. Oil: Monounsaturated Fats
Monounsaturated fats contain essential fatty acids and gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), which are crucial for brain development and function, among many other excellent benefits for your health. Olive oil, sesame oil, canola oil, almond oil, flaxseed oil, and fish oil are rich in monounsaturated fats and are good choices for brain health. Population studies show that people with a diet that is high in unsaturated, unhydrogenated fats may have a reduced risk of Alzheimer's disease, whereas those with a diet that is higher in saturated fats and trans fats have an increased risk.

6. L-carnitine Foods
Age-related memory problems are many times caused by plaque buildup and diminished blood supply to the brain, compromising the delivery of nutrients and oxygen. L-carnitine, an amino acid manufactured in your liver, increases circulation in the brain — among a myriad of powerful benefits for your health. Also, because it prevents fat oxidation in the brain, L-carnitine shows some promise in preventing Alzheimer's disease. Good sources of L-carnitine include: meats, fish, poultry, wheat, avocado, milk, and fermented soybeans.

7. Microalgae
Microalgaes from the ocean and uncontaminated lakes, including blue-green algae, spirulina, chlorella, seaweed, and kelp are easy-to-digest, high protein and high-energy supplements-and contain over a hundred trace minerals! Available in your health food store, microalgae are simple to incorporate into your diet to ensure a good, strong brain function. Look for powders you dissolve in juice or flakes you can sprinkle on your food.

8. Green Tea
Green tea prevents an enzyme found in Alzheimer's disease and is also rich in polyphenols, antioxidants that help prevent premature brain aging. Drink two cups a day to get the brain benefits. To decaf tea, steep for 45 seconds and pour out the water, add fresh hot water to the leaves or tea bag — 95% of caffeine will be eliminated.

Herbal Boost
There are many Chinese herbs that support healthy brain functions, including ginkgo biloba and gotu kola. For support of healthy brain function I recommend our family formula called Enduring Youth, which contains Chinese herbs such as Chinese yam, goji berry, schisandra berry, Asian cornelian, China root, Cistanches, sweet flag, Chinese senega, dipsacus, anise, and Chinese foxglove. For more information, click here.

I hope you get the brain benefits of these foods. I invite you to visit often and share your own personal health and longevity tips with me.

-Dr. Mao

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To learn more about Dr. Mao and other natural health tips, go to askdrmao.com.

To purchase Dr. Mao's book, "Secrets of Self Healing," click here.

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