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Alzheimer’s and dementia can be a result of the gradual accumulation of a toxic protein in brain cells called beta-amyloid.  This culprit blocks the transmission of information between brain cells, cuts out synapses, disrupts basic neuron function, and leads to cell death. Neuroscientist, Gary Wenk, the author of “your brain on food,” also professor of Psychology, Neuroscience, Molecular Virology, Immunology and Medical Genetics at Ohio State University, explains that we should be aware of the foods we put in our body, just as we are aware of the drugs we put in our body.  Everything we eat causes a chemical response and also prompts reaction in the brain.  To keep our brain cells healthy, it is important to understand the following process:

We breathe in Oxygen to exist! Yes. But more specifically C02 is needed to metabolize; converting the food we eat into energy.  Proteins, fats and carbohydrates are made up of many carbon chain combinations.  As we eat, and simultaneously breathe in C02, the body naturally breaks down those carbon chains into sugar glucose which fuel our cells.  The remaining carbon bonds left in the body are filtered out by our natural process of breathing, (inhaling C02 then exhaling out carbon).  During energy metabolism, rouge oxygen molecules or (free-radicals) are left behind which are toxic to cells.   The younger we are the easier it is for the hemoglobin in our blood to automatically regulate oxygen levels, yet as we age we have less and less help from our natural defenses.

So how do we help our natural defenses?  You got it! Anti-Oxidants.  Anti-Oxidants slow neurodegeneration.  The chemicals that give fruits and veggies their vibrant color are what we want to protect us from those devious oxygen free radicals.  Plants synthesize the chemicals we recognize as anti-oxidants, built as shields against bacteria, viruses, and ultra-violet light.  These plant shields are what we want to protect our cells!  Some great anti-oxidant potent foods include, blueberries, broccoli, grapes, prunes, strawberries, spinach, artichokes, and apples along with herbs such as rosemary, turmeric, thyme, and oregano.  Turmeric is found in many curries, a classic staple in Indian cuisine; (Note: the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease in India is 1/6th that of the US). Hint hint, bulk up on that turmeric.

To avoid oxygen overexposure, and boost brain function as you age, it is critical to eat in moderation.  In fact, researchers have found that the same people who develop obesity or heart disease, also develop dementia.  Similarly, being aware of what we put in our bodies is critical to warding off or impeding symptoms of these diseases.  By keeping the calorie intake down and the anti-oxidant intake up, you will be on your way to a healthy brain and a healthy body for years to come.

Via: Susan Bonee