FOOD FOR THOUGHT—NUTRIENTS FOR BRAIN HEALTH

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Your brain is powerful. You can even use it to think about how the brain itself works. Crazy, right? But this power doesn’t make your brain immune to factors that impact the rest of your body. Lifestyle and environment can affect your brain health. Luckily, there are nutrients for brain health shown to support cognitive function.
Lipids
For a long time, dietary fats (lipids) have been connected to brain health. Originally, lipids’ effect on the cardiovascular system was thought to facilitate that connection. But more recent research shows dietary fats have more direct actions on the brain.
Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (like DHA from fish oil) normally make up cell membranes throughout your body. And like other saturated fat, they’re fundamental building blocks for your brain cells. That’s part of the reason fish is often called a brain food.
Flavonoids
The antioxidant effects of flavonoids are well-established in a test-tube setting. But these plant compounds—like cocoa, ginkgo, and grape-seed extracts—have more complex actions in the body that is continually being researched.
Some flavonoids show promising results in maintaining healthy brain function. Quercetin—a flavonoid that’s a major component of ginkgo biloba extracts—has been shown to maintain memory and learning abilities in some studies. Further research on the subject is needed.
B Vitamins
Adequate levels of the B vitamin folate are essential for brain function. The proof? Folate deficiency can lead to neurological disorders, like depression and cognitive impairment.
Clinical trial results have deepened the connection between folate and cognitive function. These studies have shown folate supplementation—by itself or in conjunction with other B vitamins (B6 and B12)—to be effective at maintaining healthy cognitive function during aging.
Other Nutrients
There are more nutrients for brain health. Here’s a short list of the other nutrients with researched roles in brain health:
Alpha lipoic acid has been shown to maintain memory and cognitive function.
Vitamin E, or α-tocopherol, has also been implicated in cognitive performance. Decreasing serum levels of vitamin E were associated with poor memory performance in older individuals.
Curcumin is a strong antioxidant that seems to protect the brain from lipid peroxidation and nitric-oxide-based radicals.
Several gut hormones or peptides—like leptin, ghrelin, glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP1) and insulin—have been found to support healthy emotional response and cognitive processes.
Energy Production
The brain runs your body. And it takes a lot of energy to literally be the brain of the operation. Healthy macronutrients are necessary to fuel your brain and provide the energy it needs.

The mechanisms involved in the transfer of energy from foods to neurons are likely to be fundamental to the control of brain function. Processes that are associated with the management of energy in neurons can affect brain plasticity.
Far-Reaching Impacts
Lifestyle and diet have long-term effects on your health. That means they are likely underestimated for their importance to public health—especially when it comes to healthy aging. But they’re important to your brain. The gradual and sometimes imperceptible cognitive decline that characterizes normal aging can be influenced by the nutrients you feed your brain through a healthy diet.
These impacts go beyond your life, too. Through epigenetics, you pass on traits to your children and their children. Newer studies back this up. They indicate that these nutritional effects on your brain might even be transmitted over generations by influencing epigenetic events.

Reference

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What’s Best Choice? Skipping a Workout or Skimping On Sleep?

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So you stayed up way too late watching House of Cards and now you’re staring at your alarm clock, wondering if you should still wake up early and drag your butt to the gym. Normally, you’re up and at ‘em like a champ, but sleep-deprived supersets sound like anything but funzies. Should you skip your workout and sleep in—or suck it up and head to the gym?

The answer all depends on whether or not you can nap tomorrow, say experts.

If You Can’t Nap…

Catch up on sleep. We’re officially giving you a sleep expert’s permission to snooze. “Studies show that when people get less than six hours—meaning they were sleep deprived—they’re more prone to athletic injuries,” says Robert Rosenberg, D.O., board-certified sleep medicine physician.

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In other words, if you want to stay injury-free and maximize your sweat session, you need adequate zzz’s first. Heading to the gym when you’re bleary-eyed can actually work against your fitness goals—and the ill effects can carry into the rest of your day. “Your alertness and performance can suffer,” says Cathy Goldstein, M.D., a sleep specialist at the University of Michigan Sleep Disorders Center. That’s not so great for things like dominating a work project or, you know, driving. What’s more, because short sleep can alter hunger hormones, you could end up eating more calories than you burned exercising, she says.

Your fix: Stay in bed the extra hour. If you normally wake up at 6 a.m. for your
workout, sleep in until 7 a.m. While it’s important to maintain a consistent wake-up time most days, sleeping in a bit (we’re talking one hour, not three) isn’t a huge deal when you need it, says Rosenberg.

If You Can Nap…

Wake up early and go to the gym. Yes, even if it’s a weekend, says Goldstein. Sure, that sounds harsh, but hear us out. One factor that controls your ability to get to sleep at night is your internal clock (a.k.a your circadian rhythm), which is controlled by your morning light exposure, she explains. When you sleep in, you expose yourself to sunlight later than usual, which tells your body and brain you should go to bed later, too—leaving you stuck in an endless cycle of never being able to rise and shine for the gym. “For that reason, I think morning workouts at the same time each day are great for your sleep,” says Goldstein.

Your fix: Take a quick siesta—for no more than one hour—before 2 p.m., says Goldstein. You’ll wake feeling refreshed, without interrupting your normal circadian rhythm, she says. Set an alarm so you don’t oversleep—anything longer than an hour will cut into your shut-eye later that night.

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Oh, and if you’re chronically shorting yourself on sleep, change up your priorities. “Make up time for sleep by cutting out NetFlix binges as opposed to cutting out your workout,” says Goldstein. (Easier said than done, but okayyy.)

This Article is originally published  in : Women’s Health