Eat Smart for a Healthier Brain
Studies show that eating berries can strengthen the immune system, improve mental function, boost stamina and fight inflammation. Berries derive their age-defying power from naturally occurring antioxidants called phytochemicals. Blueberries, strawberries, bilberries and acai berries are particularly rich in health-boosting phytochemicals. As an added bonus they are low in fat and high in fiber. They are also delicious, and because there are so many varieties available, there is a berry to suit almost every taste bud.
A study published by the American Chemical Society offered evidence that the compounds in berries may activate the brain's “clean-up” mechanism that removes toxic proteins linked to age-related memory decline. Researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston reported similar findings in their studies linking berry consumption to improved cognitive function.
Another study, conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, touted berries' anti-inflammatory properties. Inflammation is a factor in the development of several diseases including cancer, heart disease and Alzheimer's. Millions of prescriptions are written each year for anti-inflammatory medications, many of which have unpleasant and sometimes harmful side effects. Berries and other antioxidant-rich foods can help the body fight inflammation naturally.
Given the large body of convincing evidence supporting their benefits, it makes sense to find ways to include more berries in your daily diet. Enjoy berries with your morning cereal or pack some as a healthy snack for your breaks at work. Incorporate berries into low-fat desserts. Break out the blender and create a berry-filled smoothie as an afternoon pick-me-up.
Fortunately, berries are easy to find and require little or no preparation. Whenever possible, choose fresh, organically grown berries that have not been exposed to pesticides and other pollutants.
Millions of Americans use nutritional supplements to make sure they are getting the age-defying nutrients they need to stay healthy and active. “Berry Essentials,” which is available from the Institute for Vibrant Living, is a delicious fruity punch that contains 10 powerhouse superberries including blueberries, acai berries, strawberries, black cherries, bilberries and blackberries. Simply mix it with water and keep some in the fridge for a refreshing, health-boosting snack.
Contrary to popular belief, mental and physical decline are not inevitable aspects of the aging process. Nobody lives forever, but advances in health care have made it possible for us to live longer than any generation before us. Give your body the nutrients it needs to stay healthy and energized.