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Six Foods for Healthier Brains
May 1, 2013
David L. Raffle, PhD, CBIS
Most of my patients with mild traumatic brain injury who I see in our Hermosa Beach and West Los Angeles believe, as many people do, that the brain is completely formed in adolescence and never changes at all – that is, until we become older, and then it slowly deteriorates.
This is simply not true! Brain cells, like all of our body’s cells, are replaced on a regular basis – in fact, nearly all of our body’s cells are completely replaced every seven years. That’s right, the “you” that existed seven years ago no longer exists – you are indeed a brand-new you, and so is your brain.
We would all agree that the raw materials that our body needs to replace all of its cells must come from the food we eat. Therefore, our choice of foods can have a major influence on whether the brain cells that replace the old ones have all the nutrients they needed to function at top efficiency. This would also explain why individuals who have unhealthy diets have an increased risk for both neurological and psychiatric illnesses, including depression and dementia.
So, what six foods should we eat to keep our regenerating brains working at top form?
1. Olive Oil: A Mediterranean diet, which includes unsaturated fats such as olive oil, has been shown to reduce the incidence of stroke, decrease cognitive impairments, and lower the risk of Alzheimer’s dementia.
2. Cold-Water Fish: Certain oily fish, including salmon, herring, and mackerel, are highest omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to fend off many diseases of the brain and to reduce symptoms of depression and psychosis.
3. Nuts and Seeds: A diet high in polyunsaturated fatty acids (also found in fish and green leafy vegetables) may improve symptoms of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in children.
4. Dark Chocolate: Flavanols and polyphenols in chocolate help to remove free radicals and improve platelet function, which can reduce the incidence of myocardial infarction and stroke.
5. Berries: Strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries are highest in anthocyanins, whose antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties help to slow cognitive decline and reverse age-related learning and memory problems.
6. Red Wine: Light-to-moderate intake of resveratrol, a polyphenolic antioxidant, may protect against vascular disease and dementia, and lower the risk of Alzheimer’s dementia.
David Raffle is a psychological assistant under psychologist Dr. Colleen Long and performs psychological testing for ADHD, LD, memory loss, educational assessment, cognitive functioning, as well as personal injury clients. He sees patients in Hermosa Beach, Manhattan Beach, Redondo Beach, and Torrance. He also works out of the West Los Angeles office, seeing patients in Marina Del Rey, Culver City, and Beverly Hills.