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Too Many Senior Moments?

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Too Many Senior Moments?

Foods to fortify your brain power.
Susan Smith Jones Ph.D.
Susan Smith Jones Ph.D. More by this author
Feb 11, 2010 at 09:00 AM

Changes that were once labeled milestones in growing older—such as high blood pressure, fragile bones, weight gain and significant memory loss—are no longer considered inevitable. Your mind can be as vibrant in your 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s as it was in your 30s. Here are some of my favorite foods and other natural lifestyle tips on how to keep your memory sharp, concentration elevated, and mind active and vibrant well into your golden years. Being a “goldenite,” as I have referred to our senior years for decades, can be the best time of your life.

  1. Grab an apple a day: The old saying that an apple a day could keep the doctor away is really true when it comes to your brainpower. This much-loved fruit has a potent antioxidant that appears to protect brain cells from free-radical damage, a Cornell University study says. Since apples—especially the skins—are loaded with quercitin, it would behoove you to snack on one daily. It just might be your ticket to a retirement chock-filled with memories.
  2. Be a berry fanatic: Any time of year, find ways to add berries to a host of foods you already eat—whether fresh or frozen. Enjoy them in smoothies, fruit salads, and cereals, for dessert, or simply as a snack out of hand. Blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, boysenberries, cranberries and other varieties boast phytochemicals—pigments that create berries’ rich color, which are thought to defend the body against damaging carcinogens and free radicals. Who’s the best berry of them all? Blueberries. Blueberries are known as the “brain berry.” More than almost any other food, they enhance mental function.
  3. Prevent memory loss with herbal support: You can stop memory loss with a “nuclear” plant. Gingko biloba is the world’s longest living species of tree, and it’s so hardy, it even withstood the atomic bomb! But researchers are excited because ginkgo improves circulation and blood flow, increases mental clarity, and even clears up headaches. It will really get your focus back on track!
  4. Asparagus could be the answer: One of the key players in better brain function is the B vitamin complex—specifically folate, thiamin, B6, and B12. Experts say that low levels of B vitamins can result in poor memory and possibly Alzheimer’s disease. So why don’t you make asparagus part of your memory-strengthening diet?
  5. Sound advice from monkeys: Their favorite food is the banana and this versatile fruit will add to your brainpower well into your golden years. Research has shown that the potassium- and B6-packed fruit can assist learning by making pupils more alert. Embrace being a goldenite and keep bananas close at hand.
  6. Turn on to turnips: A turnip might not be your favorite vegetable, but it is certainly a prizewinner when it comes to enhancing your mental capacity. One of the secrets to staying mentally alert as you age is getting enough vitamin E. Keeping your brain sharp at 70 or 80 may be as simple as eating vegetables like turnip greens and spinach, which are teaming with this potent antioxidant.
  7. Popeye’s sage advice: One of the most nutritious foods on planet earth, spinach is known to help vision and memory loss. Just because you age doesn’t mean memory loss is inevitable. The fat-soluble nutrients—like vitamins A, E, and D—will keep your thyroid healthy and your mind sharp. Spinach also is a good source of iron.
  8. Chew on this nut: While only two ounces of almonds give you more than 50 percent of your daily requirement of magnesium—a mineral that’s important for heart health, this king of nuts, the almond, also abounds in omega-3 fatty acids, a form of unsaturated fat that helps improve memory and mental performance and may defend against Alzheimer’s. Munch on a few while working a crossword puzzle for a double dose of brain tonic.
  9. Remember the rosemary: You may have heard the old saying “rosemary is for remembrance.” It has an element of truth to it. Rosemary is full of antioxidants that will help to keep your memory sharp as a tack. This pungent herb can enhance your sauces and enliven up breads and muffins. You may also want to reach for rosemary to help rev up hair growth!
  10. Banish senior moments with ginseng: Most of us fear losing our minds more than anything else that could conceivably happen with age. The good news is that we can be forgetful for many reasons other than approaching dementia. Forgetfulness at midlife is more often a result of being way too busy, stressed to the max, or sorely short on sleep. One of my favorite tips for keeping forgetfulness at bay is to sip on some ginseng tea. Ginseng is a whole-system tonic that helps you withstand stress, increase endurance, prevent colds and the flu, and improve mental performance.
  11. Exercise for life: Okay, it’s not a food but it’s imperative if you want to keep your mind strong and healthy well into your “goldenite” years. Not only does regular exercise assist in the weight loss arena, reduce stress, make your skin aglow, and your spirit soar; it also keeps your mind alert, focused, and strong.
  12. Activities guaranteed to bring joy: There’s no doubt about it. The foods you eat have a profound effect on your brainpower. But there are also a few other activities, such as exercise, that you’ll want to remember to incorporate into your weekly activities so that your mind remains vibrant and stoked. These include regular ample sleep, plenty of purified water, meditation, and time in nature; all of these lifestyle choices will benefit in keeping your stress levels down and your heart smiling.
About Author
Susan Smith Jones Ph.D.
Susan Smith Jones, Ph.D., has authored a variety of audio programs, 20 books, and hundreds of magazine articles. For 30 years, at UCLA, she taught students, staff, and faculty how to be healthy and fit; and is internationally renowned as a holistic h Continue reading