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The Right Foods to Enhance Senior Brain Health

by Dr. Paul Nussbaum, Brain Health Expert
July 12, 2012

Question: I was wondering if there are any particular kinds of food that can enhance brain health for seniors. I am asking this on behalf of my aunt who is otherwise very active physically.

Answer: When the subject of nutrition and the brain arises I am always careful to first educate folks about why nutrition can be both good and bad for the human brain. It is important to understand that the human brain is comprised of 60% fat and is actually the fattest part of the human body. It is this fat that helps to insulate nerve tracts and to propel information in an electrical modality quickly. We want our brains to be rapid and efficient information processing systems.

When we were cave men and women we consumed one good fat for every bad fat. Today we consume about 16 bad fats for every good fat and experts teach us that our brains can handle at most four bad fats for every good fat.

So, what are good fats? Omega-3 fatty acids are the healthy fat we should consume in our diets. Omega-3s are found in fish such as salmon, herring, mackerel, tuna and sardines (unsalted). The government recommends we consume 8 ounces of fish a week. For those who do not consume fish, a dietary supplement such as Moxxor (www.mymoxxor.com/drpaul) is recommended. Supplements are no magic cure and you should always consult with your primary care physician, but a conversation about Omega-3s is a good one to have.

The second major food category for the brain is “antioxidants.” This is a fancy label for fruits and vegetables. Antioxidants help to rid the body of “free radicals” that are toxins in our body that relate to many different conditions and diseases. The government recommends we consume 6-8 servings of fruits and vegetables daily.

Of course we also need to stop eating trans-fats and to reduce our daily intake of processed, fried, and fast foods!

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Dr. Nussbaum earned his Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of Arizona and completed his internship and post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. He has provided care to older adults for over 25 years and specializes in normal aging, Alzheimer’s disease, and related disorders. His brain health lifestyle ® has been published in consumer friendly texts, presented to diverse audiences across the nation, and is frequently cited in the media.

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