Fruits & Vegetables. The Hidden Magic Molecules That Boost Your Brain:
When we think about our quality of life, one of the big parts of it is brain health.
It would be really nice to be at our best for as long as possible,
Because in some ways, what else do we have? As René Descartes once said, “I Think, therefore I Am.”
But what comes to mind when we think about keeping up our brain fitness?
Probably coffee, a few TV-ad supplements, and maybe a nap.
But in another chapter of, “Your grandmother was right!” researchers are finding out some very specific nutrition can keep your mind in top shape over time…
The Short Answer:
- A big part of quality of life depends on brain health.
- Most people don’t focus on it that much.
- Perhaps we think what we get is static after a certain age, because problems with it aren’t conspicuous like chubby abs.
- It’s hard to know what to do, and BS supplement ads aren’t helping.
- Many times, we’d rather take a pill than change our behavior.
- It turns out that sleep, naps, and cardio exercise are all fantastic for your brain.
- Research by several parties, including the current one is showing Nutrition can help, too.
- Their specific work shows that eating foods with high Flavonoid content is one key.
- These come from fruit & veg with generally bright colors, and occasionally very dark too.
- A few examples are: Citrus, Peppers, Apples, Berries, Cabbage, Tea, Red Wine, & Dark Chocolate.
- Subjects who ate high-levels of these compounds through their food had a 20% better chance of fighting off cognitive decline.
- For subjects who focused on dark berries, that advantage climbed to 24%.
- The main sub-types suspected of helping are called Anthocyanins & Flavones.
- They probably help by reducing inflammation, increasing circulation, and neutralizing harmful chemicals.
- The study on food is a good reminder, because it is almost always better to get your vitamins, minerals, & micronutrients like Flavonoids from food instead of supplements.
Read on to find out the details…
→ Show/Hide Table Of Contents ←
So let’s face it, the great American tradition to fix anything, especially concerning health is,
“There’s a pill for that!”
And we turn to some BS supplement on TV with questionable claims that disappear out of their marketing stack after the first few iterations and the FDA catches on.
Some of us might even go further afield, like the HealthTrekker crowd would, and get on the Phosphatidyl-Serine and L-Theanine.
But we tend not to want anything inconvenient.
Now, we’re generally-lucky that Sleep is one of the great brain-restoratives,
And if we do it right, it can even clear out a ton of junk from our brains.
We’re also lucky that if we can set aside the time, Naps are easy and just amazing for restoring productivity,
Across not only the day, but the week, too!
Depending on what you’re like, the far end of the scale for difficulty is either running, or just exercise in-general.
In-between “Oh, so sleepy! Must cuddle with cat.” and “Oh God, make the burning stop!” is Nutrition.
Some people can deal with it, many people hate it, but the focus of the Harvard team’s work says if you get some very specific stuff in your diet, you are going to have a much healthier brain at the minimum.
And that leads us into the recent set of research.
Across a group of about 50,000 women between the ages of 30 and 55, and about 28,000 men between the ages of 40 and 75,
Dr. Walter Willett’s Harvard team studied the brain-health outcomes with respect to subjects’ diets.
And one of the key brain-boosting ingredients they found was our old friend, Flavonoids.
The subjects were asked simple questions in two studies, one that lasted 4 years, and another that lasted 2.
Their diet was then correlated to their responses on those questions relating to subjective cognitive decline.
These were generally things like remembering grocery lists and following story-plots, etc.
As you might have guessed, especially from that previous superpost,
Subjects who ate the most flavonoids in their diet had a minimum of 20% greater chance of fighting-off cognitive decline.
That difference ranges from about 600+mg/day for the high-intake group (3x the US average), down to 150mg/day or less for the low-intake group.
So now you have a dosage baseline to work from also.
Spoiler Alert!: If you like Blueberries, Blackberries, & Cherries, that number goes up to a frickin’ 24% improvement!
So no fancy supplements, not even tons of naps, just getting a varied diet with plenty of brightly-colored fruits & vegetables in it,
Just like your grandmother probably told you to do,
And you reap not just some general-ish, vague, “Grow up to be big & strong.” health-benefits,
But some actual long-term healthspan for one of the most important parts of you, your brain!
Dr. Willett goes on to specify that the subjects they observed with the best results consumed a lot of:
1) Orange juice
6) Grapefruit juice
Not only that, but Dr. W also adds the best part yet: It’s never too late!
That 20% protection factor accrues to just about anyone.
-People who just started eating these types of foods recently, or people who’ve been doing it for years!
So you can still make a positive change for your brain health!
Inside all of those foods are specific types of flavonoids you might have read about in the prior superpost.
Specifically, the sub-types the Harvard team believes are key come from the groups entitled, Anthocyanins and Flavones.
Strangely-enough, our old pal Dr. Neal Barnard is a huge fan of Anthocyanins in his work on Superfoods for the Brain.
In that, he was able to reverse early cognitive impairment in a test-group by reducing their saturated fat intake and greatly-increasing their anthocyanin intake.
Ie: Less sausage, more blueberries.
And if you wanted to look even further into that group from the superpost, a few more that have high-scores in anthocyanin & flavone content are:
1) Blueberries (high score: 1.63mg/g of Anthocyanidins)
2) Cranberries (high score: .92mg/g of Anthocyanidins)
3) Cherries (high score: .8mg/g of Anthocyanidins)
4) Red Cabbage (high score: .73mg/g of Anthocyanidins)
And just because they add a little more fun to the party:
5) Red Wine (high score: 4.15mg/g of Catechins)
6) Cocoa/71%+Dark-Chocolate (high score: 18.2mg/g of Catechins)
But some of the key themes are Berries, Onions, Apples, Citrus, Peppers, Tea, and any fruit & veg with bright (or in some cases very dark) colors.
Now the funny thing is, there are 2 contradictions around this research space.
1) Scientists are telling us that Anti-Oxidants don’t really work the way we thought they did by getting into cells.
2) Flavonoids have among many others, Anti-Oxidant properties!
So we really don’t know exactly why & how they work yet.
But some of the ways they probably do are by reducing inflammation, increasing circulation, and neutralizing harmful chemicals even though this does not take place inside our cells as the original theorists thought.
The other great thing about focusing your diet on minimum quantities of these natural Superfoods is precisely because they aren’t pills.
They get all kinds of good stuff into you in a natural way that is better than pills, because it’s hard to overdose,
And it’s in a buffered form that releases slowly and avoids any of the overdose problems that can happen with vitamins & supplements.
So the next time you go out, skip the Ultra-Processed Foods, and get yourself some of nature’s amazing supplements right in your food!
And as a bonus, Flavonoid content from fruits & vegetables in your diet isn’t just linked to better brain health & memory, it’s associated with many other benefits for your health too!