Special to The Leader
By now, most of us know we must keep our bodies healthy to prevent diseases like cancer, kidney failure, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, etc.
What only a small percentage know is the brain is very much part of the package. Even less know, like other chronic illnesses, it is possible to prevent cognitive decline.
At Nuview Nutrition, I’ve learned that prevention truly is the best medicine. With steps I take today, I’ve planned a successful aging strategy by supporting my body and brain with exercise, supplements, whole foods, and healthy fats.
Yes, that’s right—FAT.
In the past, we always heard to steer clear of fat. It was the enemy and caused heart conditions and weight gain, right? Well, yes and no.
Recap: Fat increases cholesterol. There’s good cholesterol (HDL) and bad (LDL). Naturally, we want to lower the bad and only increase the good. You know this, but what does it have to do with brain health?
The brain requires cholesterol to help neurons form connections with other neurons. These connections are vital in supporting memory and learning. Therefore, the more neurons you have connecting with other neurons, the healthier your brain will be.
Enter DHA …
The brain is 60 percent fat and eight percent of that is DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid. Not to be confused with its cousin, omega-6, this important nutrient protects neurological function and supports the growth of new cells.
You want more of that and the body does not produce it on its own. To help the brain function more efficiently and the surest way to get DHA into your system is through a third-party tested fish oil supplement and/or by including it in your diet.
Choose healthy fats like walnuts, almonds, avocados, olive oil, flax seed, and fatty fish like salmon, herring, mackerel and sardines. Avoid inflammatory foods like sugar and refined carbohydrates such as bread, bagels, pastries, cereal and pasta. You also want to avoid saturated fats like butter, cheese, dirty oils, and fatty meats like bacon and sausage.
You don’t need to sacrifice to live a life of prevention. Health tastes good! Here’s an easy pudding recipe full of neuron-boosting healthy fats:
• 2 large avocados, chilled
• /2 cup organic full-fat coconut milk
• 1/3 cup raw, organic honey
• 1/3 cup organic, raw cacao powder
• 2 tsp vanilla extract
• Cut avocados in half and remove the pit. Scoop the flesh into a food processor with the remaining ingredients.
• Blend until smooth and creamy. Test to decide if you’d like to add more sweetener.
• Divide the pudding among 4 small bowls.
• If desired, add additional toppings like chopped nuts, sea salt, or allergy-friendly chocolate chips.
Live to support your brain health by incorporating other habits such as regular exercise, socialization, mental stimulation and a clean diet filled with lean protein, organic fruits and leafy vegetables.
The future-you begs the present-you to invest in your health now, while you can. Prevention is possible when it comes to cognitive health. Depending on where you are in your journey, it can be as simple as changes in diet and routines to prevent or as serious as a plan of attack to reverse. The choice is yours!