What you eat affects how you thinks and feel

Feeding the Aging Mind: What Foods Keep Your Mind Sharp?


This blog was originally written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Health Goes Strong. The site was deactivated in July 2013, but you can read the original post here.

Do you fear living with an aging mind more than an aging body? I do, so I’m always ready to learn more about ways to keep my mind sharp right up until my body wears out. The good news is the right diet can help keep both shape.

What Happens to as Our Brain’s Age?

The brain’s billions of neurons “talk” to one another through neurotransmitters, including norepinephrine, serotonin, and dopamine. These neurotransmitters send signals along the pathways in our brain and central nervous system. Neurons that can’t get their messages through the pathways are like cell phones that can’t get their signals through to other cell phones.

This inability of neurons to communicate effectively is responsible for most of the loss of mental function as we age.

Although people naturally lose brain cells throughout their lives, the process does not necessarily accelerate with aging. Chronic diseases like hypertension, heart disease, and diabetes do, however, accelerate it.

The big concern today is that we are living longer, so want those neurons to last longer. Some groundbreaking research offers hope. While it was long-believed that the central nervous system, which includes the brain, was not capable of regenerating itself, studies have found the brain is capable of making new neurons well into old age, but at a slower rate.

It’s More Than Antioxidants

The antioxidants in foods have been credited with helping to save our aging brains. I’m sure you’ve seen those lists of the latest and greatest “superfoods” ranked for their antioxidant capacity. But what those lists don’t reveal is that the brain doesn’t get charged up by just one or two antioxidants found in blueberries or kale, it wants whole foods.

That is why our total diet is so important. There are compounds in the foods we eat that nutrition scientists have not yet measured and named. But it is clear those compounds have benefits beyond what we get from the vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients that have been identified. So our best bet for optimal nutrition is to eat a wide variety of minimally processed foods.

Foods That Feed the Aging Mind

Fruits & Vegetables: The more the better when it comes to raising the antioxidant levels of the blood. Keep fresh, frozen, dried, canned and 100% juice on hand to make it easier to have some at every meal and snack.

Beans & Lentils: They can take the place of meat at any meal or be used as a side dish with it. The big assortment of canned beans offers a way to have a different bean every day for weeks.

Nuts: Whether you like walnuts, almonds, pistachios or a mixed assortment is fine. Try using them as a crunchy topping on hot and cold cereals, salads, yogurt, and vegetables.

Fish: Keep the cost down with canned tuna, salmon and sardines and the right servings size. Just two 3-ounce servings a week are recommended.

Brewed tea: Green, black, white and oolong teas all come from the same plant and are rich in powerful antioxidants. Brewing your own from teabags or leaves you get the most benefit.

A lack of healthy red blood cells produces anemia and may increase the risk of dying after a stroke

Anemia Causes Higher Risk of Death After Stroke


This blog was originally written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Health Goes Strong. The site was deactivated in July 2013, but you can read the original post here.

Anemia is the most common blood condition in the world. It develops when you don’t have enough healthy red blood cells to transport oxygen to your cells. Iron-deficiency anemia is the most common type, but there are many others, each with its own cause and treatment. New research now suggests that anemia may increase your risk of death following a stroke.

The study was presented at the American Stroke Association meeting in February. Researchers from the Yale University School of Medicine reviewed the medical records of 3,750 men who had suffered an ischemic stroke and were treated in one of 131 Veterans Administration Hospitals in 2007.

When they compared survival rates of those with anemia to non-anemic patients they found severe anemia increased the risk of dying 3.5 times while the patient was still in the hospital and 2.5 times within the first year following the stroke. Those with moderate anemia had twice the risk of dying within six months to a year after their stroke and for those with mild anemia the risk was 1.5 times higher than those without anemia.

During an ischemic stroke a blood vessel to the brain is blocked or a blood clot occurs within the brain. The researchers believe anemia restricts the body’s natural response to raise the blood pressure after a stroke in order to force more blood to the brain. Anemia also decreases the amount of oxygen reaching the brain after a stroke when it is most needed.

The report concluded that stroke survivors with anemia have an increased risk of dying within the first year and should be closely monitored.

The researchers stated further studies are needed to see if the results are the same for women and blacks, who were not included in their population. They also said they would like to determine what type of anemia patients who suffer strokes have and whether a blood transfusion might prevent them from dying.

Are you ready to be tested to see if you have anemia?