Healthy Aging –Part 1

Amber Frazier Blog

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Supporting A Healthy Brain

Over the next several months, we will be delving into the timely subject of Healthy Aging with a 4-part series covering important nutrition and health tips for optimal wellness during the aging process. In the upcoming blogs we will touch on the importance of:

  • Core Strength and Balance
  • Hearing and Vision
  • Dental and Oral Health

Gaining control over the four topics we will be covering over the next few months will be the key to maintaining independence and successfully aging in place.

In today’s blog, we are going to focus on Brain Health.

As we age, many become concerned about the risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. These are real concerns, to be sure. However, there is so much more to brain health than those two challenges.

Over the past five years, or so, there’s been some very exciting research about nutrition strategies to support optimal brain function.

Intermittent Fasting

One of the things I found very interesting was that there seems to be a connection to not only what you eat… but when you eat. Intermittent fasting seems to be a somewhat new ‘buzz word’, but there’s a lot of great research touting its’ benefits. For senior brain health, it appears to work most optimally if:

  • You fast for 12-15 hours each day
    • Eat breakfast at 9 or 10a
    • Finish dinner by 6 or 7p
  • Consume no food at least 3 hours before bedtime
    • No bedtime snacking
      • This triggers digestive processes which hinders restoration of brain cells

Brain Foods

example of a brain food

In addition to this eating window, it’s important to have a diet that’s rich in brain healthy fats. These fats would include:

  • Salmon
    • Contains high levels of Omega-3 fatty acids
      • Aids in cognition
      • Decreases risk of depression
    • Avocado
      • Contains oleic acid, a monounsaturated fatty acid
        • In addition to brain health, this heart-healthy fat helps lower brain and cardiovascular inflammation
      • It also has a nutrient called beta-sitosterol, the plant version of cholesterol
        • This naturally helps lower your cholesterol levels
      • Coconut
        • Contains large amounts of medium chain fatty acids (MCFAs), a type of saturated fat that is fairly easy for the human body to digest
          • These fats, also called medium chain triglycerides (MCTs), have been shown to improve brain health
        • Nuts and seeds (properly prepared)
          • Contains the plant-based form of Omega-3 fats known as Alpha-Linolenic Acid
            • Aids in cognition
            • Decreases risk of depression

Also, it’s important to add the whole egg back into your diet, if you took it out due to the fear of elevated cholesterol levels. Egg yolks contain a nutrient called choline. This nutrient is crucial for optimal cognitive function.  What’s even more interesting is that choline is required to clear excess cholesterol from the liver. So, not eating the whole egg actually causes more harm than good.

When following the eating schedule mentioned above, along with the recommended foods, your brain will have the nourishment it needs to perform activities of daily living, such as:

  • Dressing yourself
  • Preparing your own meals
  • Driving to the grocery store

This is what allows you to maintain your independence.

A well-nourished brain allows for good reflexes. This is one of the critical components to maintaining your driver’s license.

It also plays a key role in strength and balance. We will go into greater detail on that topic next month.

Lastly, following these guidelines has been shown to improve your quality of sleep. This is crucial because good quality sleep is what allows all of your cells to repair and rejuvenation. (And who doesn’t want that?)

I know that sometimes it can seem impossible to ‘teach an old dog new tricks’, but you really can improve the quality of your life w

ith a few dietary changes. If you want some guidance to get you on your way, there are many holistic nutrition professionals who are qualified to help you get started. Nutrition Therapy Institute will happily connect you to a graduate who can help.

Easy-Peasy Energy Balls Recipe

energy balls

As always, here’s a fun recipe to get you moving in the right direction. This one’s an easy, grab and go snack you can have on hand while you’re out running errands.

Easy-Peasy Energy Balls (I got this recipe from my friend, Ellin Meade well over 10 years ago. It’s been a go-to many, many times)

 

Ingredients:

1 cup walnuts (soak overnight to obtain optimal nutritional value)

1 cup dates soft (if dates are not fresh and soft, soak them in hot water for 10 minutes)

2 tbsp almond butter

2 tbsp honey (I don’t use the honey because I think this is sweet enough with the dates)

1/8 tsp salt – optional

1/4 c desiccated coconut – unsweetened

Instructions:

Place the dates, walnuts, almond butter, honey (if used), and salt into a food processor and blend until smooth.

You will need to stop and scrape the sides as needed. The mixture should come together like a dough when it’s done.

Separate the dough into 14 evenly sized balls. Roll the balls in coconut and serve.  (I prefer putting in fridge and chilling for a couple of hours before serving. I find that it ‘sets up’ better.)

Store and refrigerate in an airtight container.

About the author

Dr Becky Spacke, is a course instructor at Nutrition Therapy Institute. In addition, she has a private practice, working with people at risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease. You can learn more by visiting www.HealingFromAlz.com

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Photo by Gary Barnes from Pexels

Image by Juraj Varga from Pixabay

Image by Marco Verch Professional Photographer is licensed under CC BY 2.0

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