Creative Eldering: Brain Longevity
For many seniors, one of the biggest concerns about aging revolves around their cognitive decline and memory impairment. Many factors that affect brain health are within our control and can make a significant difference in our cognitive function. The good news is that if you’ve been following this series, you have already read about many of the essential habits needed to minimize or avoid cognitive decline.
There are many different ways you can ensure your brain’s longevity. Taking preventative steps to avoid head injuries, sleep deficiency and diseases, especially heart disease and diabetes, are all important measures you can take to avoid cognitive decline. One of the most important actions you can take to maintain optimal brain health is to eat a diet rich in essential nutrients, vitamins, minerals, unaltered carbohydrates, proteins and essential fatty acids.
Vitamin B12, found in a variety of foods, is an essential vitamin that can boost energy, reduce depression and lower your chance of neurological degeneration. Vitamin B12 has also been shown to have powerful pain reducing qualities in cases of neuropathy. Natural sources of vitamin B12 are found exclusively from animal foods. Some of the richest sources include sardines, Atlantic mackerel, and lamb. Other good sources of vitamin B12 include, feta cheese, cottage cheese, and eggs. If you are unable to acquire a sufficient amount of vitamin B12 from food sources, methylcobalamin is the best form to take. Methylcobalamin is the most active form of vitamin B12 in the human body. Cyanocobalamin is another common source of vitamin B12 and is the most popular form in most vitamin B12 supplements. Cyanocobalamin is a synthetic version of vitamin B12 and requires your body to do extra work to convert this form to a useable source. The ingredient label on your vitamin B12 supplement should note the form, but you may need to do further research to ensure that you are getting the vitamin in its best form, methylcobalamin.
Amino acids are another necessary nutrient for you to include in your diet in order to ensure optimal brain function and reduce your risk of memory loss. Amino acids help your body to create neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters help your brain’s function by transmitting messages and electrical impulses up and down your nerve pathways. Acetyl L carnitine and L-carnosine are two specific amino acids that have been proven to help rejuvenate your brain. Foods rich in protein are good sources of acetyl L carnitine. Red meat, especially grass-fed beef, and organic dairy are good food sources that contain acetyl L carnitine. L-carnosine can be found in white mushrooms, soy beans, turnip greens and asparagus. If you are unable to acquire a sufficient amount of these and other amino acids from your diet, I strongly recommend that you work with a trusted healthcare practitioner to fine a reputable amino acid supplement.
Brain healthy nutrition is just one step you can take to protect your brain’s function. I have devised six other areas of focus, coined “Cognitive Decline Risk Busters,” that will help you to create a strategic plan to maintain your best brain function. These risk busters are discussed on pages 165 through 173 in Your Aging Body Can Talk. If you are interested in more ways that you can ensure your brain’s health and longevity, you may want to read chapter 8: Brain Longevity in my book, Your Aging Body Can Talk.