Are you getting forgetful? Have you misplaced your keys lately? You might be concerned that it’s something serious like Alzheimer’s, but in most cases, being forgetful is perfectly normal.
However, the risk of neurological diseases does increase as we get older. It is estimated that one out of every nine people older than 65 has Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia.
That’s why it’s important to develop good lifestyle habits early on to help protect your brain.
Today, we’ll be talking about one group of vitamins you should prioritize, if you want to prevent cognitive decline. And the FOUR foods that cause brain inflammation you’ll want to avoid.
As always, this video is educational and does not constitute medical advice; we are not doctors.
When it comes to keeping your brain young and healthy, B vitamins are absolutely necessary.
That’s because depression, dementia and mental impairment are often associated with a deficiency of B vitamins.
There are eight different B vitamins, each with its own primary health benefits.
Let’s start with Vitamin B1, also known as thiamin. B1 is crucial for the basic function of our cells and the metabolism of nutrients for energy.
While the brain represents just 2% of a person’s total body weight, it accounts for 20% of the body’s energy use.
This makes the brain one of the most metabolically active organs in your body, which means it needs the support of thiamin to prevent neurological problems down the line.
Next, we have vitamin B2, or riboflavin.
B2 acts as an assistant to enzymes in our cells that carry out important reactions, such as in the body and brain.
It also helps to grow cells, produce energy and break down fats and external materials like medications.
Next is vitamin B3, or niacin.
B3 interacts with over 400 enzymes to produce materials like cholesterol and fatty acids needed within the body.
It also helps to convert energy for all our organ systems.
Niacin is also an antioxidant which helps reduce excess inflammation.
Up next is Vitamin B5, or pantothenic acid.
B5 is essential for making coenzyme A.
This molecular compound helps our body’s enzymes build and convert fatty acids for energy.
B5 also helps our cells generate acyl carrier proteins, helping to produce necessary fats.
Because the human brain is nearly 60 percent fat. This makes pantothenic acid one of the most important vitamins in supporting brain health.
Next is vitamin B6, or pyridoxine.
One study found that high intake of dietary vitamin B6 through food was statistically significantly associated with lower risk of all cancers.
B6 is also involved in many chemical reactions in the body that support immune function and brain health.
Next is vitamin B7, commonly known as biotin.
B7 helps to regulate cell signals for quick and efficient communication throughout the body. In the brain, it plays a vital role in cellular signaling via neurotransmitters.
Next is vitamin B9, often referred to as folate.
B9 is a popular supplement and a key vitamin for supporting brain health, optimal neurotransmitter function, and balanced psychological health.
Another benefit is that it helps encourage cellular detoxification.
And last but not least, we have vitamin B12, or cobalamin.
B12 is an essential vitamin for forming red blood cells and DNA and supporting the development and function of the nervous system.
This B vitamin also supports the breakdown of homocysteine. Having elevated levels of homocysteine increases your risks for dementia, heart disease and stroke.
Unfortunately, most B vitamins can’t be stored by your body. This means that you need to consume them in your diet.
A person who has a poor diet for a few months may end up with B-group vitamins deficiency.
Other things like extended cooking, food processing and excess alcohol consumption can also destroy or reduce the availability of many of these B vitamins.
The good news is that B vitamins are among the easiest to work into your diet.
Foods that are rich in one B vitamin often contain many, if not all, of the other B vitamins.
Here are six vitamin B-rich foods that you should add to your diet.
Number 1. Eggs.
One egg contains a third of the recommended daily value of vitamin B7, while also containing small amounts of many other B vitamins.
Number 2. Yogurt.
This dairy product is high in both vitamin B2 and vitamin B12. It’s also rich in probiotics, which support both gut and mental health.
Number 3. Legumes.
Black beans, chickpeas, edamame and lentils all help to boost your mood and brain health. They are an excellent source of vitamin B9, and include small amounts of vitamin B1, B2, B3, B5, and vitamin B6.
Number 4. Salmon.
Salmon is naturally rich in all the B vitamins, especially vitamin B2, B3, B6, and B12. It’s also an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which has anti-inflammatory and cardioprotective properties.
Number 5. Sunflower seeds.
These are one of the best plant sources of vitamin B5. You can get 20% of the recommended daily value of this vitamin from just one ounce of seeds!
Number 6. Leafy greens.
Spinach, Swiss chard, cabbage, and dandelion greens are a significant source of folate, a natural form of vitamin B9. If you want to boost your mood, this should be the first item on your shopping list.
That’s because folate is a necessary cofactor in neurotransmitter production.
Leafy greens also contain vitamin E, carotenoids and flavonoids, which are nutrients that can help protect against dementia and cognitive decline.
Next, did you know some foods can harm your gut bacteria and trigger metabolic processes that cause brain inflammation?
Brain inflammation can lead to depression, anxiety, irritability, anger, memory loss, and fatigue. But the most common symptom of brain inflammation is brain fog, that feeling of slow and fuzzy thinking.
If you want to fight inflammation and promote brain health, sharp thinking and good decision-making, there are four foods you should try to cut back on or completely avoid:
The first and most obvious is foods that contain added sugars.
While the brain uses glucose to fuel cellular activities, too much can be a problem.
A diet high in sugar can lead to excess glucose in the brain, which has been linked to memory impairments and less plasticity of the hippocampus — the part of the brain controlling memory.
The second thing you should cut back on is fried foods.
One study, including over eighteen thousand people, found that a diet high in fried foods was linked to lower scores in learning and memory.
That’s because these foods cause inflammation, which can damage the vessels that supply the brain with blood.
Another study that looked at 715 people found that those who consumed more fried foods were more likely to develop depression in their lifetime.
The next item on this list is not a food, but a drink. If you guessed alcohol, then you’re correct.
If a person regularly drinks too much alcohol, it’s toxic to their nerve cells.
Over time, drinking too much alcohol can cause brain cells to die and a person’s brain tissue to shrink.
This means there are fewer cells to carry the messages that the brain needs to do different tasks.
And last on this list is processed meats.
An analysis was done on over 1,000 people with and without psychiatric disorders.
The study showed that nitrates—chemicals used to cure meats such as beef jerky, salami, hot dogs and other processed meat snacks—may contribute to mania, an abnormal mood state.
Research shows there’s a big difference between the nitrates that are added to foods as preservatives and those that occur naturally in foods like spinach and celery.
The naturally occurring nitrates in foods come with vitamin C and other compounds that inhibit conversion into nitrosamines-organic chemicals that can cause cancer.
In the brain, nitrosamine exposure has been found to cause neurodegeneration.
Maybe you can’t completely give up foods preserved with nitrates.
Then, look for those that also come with vitamin C or a closely related compound like erythorbic acid, which is added to prevent nitrosamine formation.
No matter how old you are, it’s never too late to eat in a way that gives you the best chance of preventing dementia and keeping you focused and sharp every day.
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And now, over to you: What foods are you eating to get all of your B vitamins?
Leave your comments below. We’d love to hear from you.
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