More news on the brain health front

Here in the UK there's been a lot of  press coverage about ageing, Alzheimer's and brain health this year. The message for me seems to be that if you're a woman  in late middle age then this is one for you.

I recently overheard a group of women talking. The subject turned to someones  grand-mother who lived to the ripe old age of 102. She attributed her long life to a daily walk, a glass of whiskey and the fact that she read the newspaper from cover to cover every day. Everyone laughed. Many a truth told in jest?

We all have our own views about health, fitness and the anti-ageing message. However, as with so much on the health front and  with so many diverse views, it can be a challenge to know what to do for the best.

Earlier this week here in the UK experts in the Dementia field met to discuss the issue of Dementia and Alzheimer's Disease.  Prior to the conference there was some  press coverage about the good brain health message.  So what's been said and is there anything new?

Currently, when talking about maintaining  good brain health, the advice is -
  • Enjoy a good diet
  • Take daily exercise
  • Stop smoking
  • Reduce alcohol
Nothing new there but good advice none the less.

When it comes to brain health specifically it has been suggested that the risk of developing dementia can be reduced by as much as 20% by making these kind of lifestyle changes. The experts agree that reduced brain function is not just a feature of old age. Therefore, the advice is to make any lifestyle changes  in middle age, rather than waiting for noticeable problems to develop. In other words prevention is better than cure. (Although when it comes to Dementia there is no known cure.)  So, when it comes to these type of health choices that women over 40 have to make it's worth taking this message seriously.

So, for those women  who want to do the right thing by our health, what should we be eating and drinking?

 According to one  leading UK nutritionist broadly speaking when it comes to foods that enhance brain health we need to ensure that our diet is high in protein, low on the glycaemic index and contains a range of vitamins and minerals. (Specifically Vitamin C, Zinc, B compounds, Iron, Copper and Magnesium.) On the plate that translates to a rainbow of fresh wholefoods daily, which includes plenty of dark coloured leafy vegetables, pulses, nuts, seeds, lean meat, fish and poultry. My own particular favourites are blueberries, pecans and avocados; for a busy woman the ultimate in quality fast foods. As for recommended drinks there can't be anyone who is not aware of the  anti-oxidant properties of Green Tea. However what is perhaps surprising to some is that some experts are now saying that coffee and other caffeine beverages, if taken  in moderation,  are actually good for  brain health.

So, some clarity about what to eat. So now to the next challenge: how to apply all of this to our busy lives. To help best selling author Jean Carper has some useful every day advice. For those who need more detail her book 100 Simple Things You Can Do to Prevent Alzheimer's is probably worth  getting.

So, if  we look at the broad brush strokes, broadly the message for the older woman is to -
  • Eat an anti-oxidant rich diet
  • Exercise daily
  • Socialise regularly
  • Take a multi-vitamin supplement
  • Engage in brain challenging activities - particularly if it involves hand/eye co-ordination  and interaction with others
Here's to keeping fit, active and involved with others. However, above all else, love your life and enjoy! 

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