Repeat the mono mantra. Choosing monounsaturated fats instead of saturated fats for protection against brain damage from silent strokes. So, spread peanut butter (or the more sophisticated walnut, avocado, almond or cashew butter—note, yes we know walnuts have 6 times more omega-3’s than any other nut) instead of cream cheese on some celery or apple slices; olive oil and vinegar instead of Ranch or bleu cheese dressing on your salad; and a small handful (6 to 12 halves) of walnuts and a crunchy apple instead of snacking on chips or ice cream.
Catch some omega-3s, even if you don’t love fish. Three 3-ounce servings a week of non-fried fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids – like salmon, trout, haddock or sardines – can make your brain younger. Not into fin food? Take omega-3 capsules. We like the DHA form of omega-3s (and prefer algae-based supplements to fish oil) and recommend 600 to 900 milligrams a day. I (Glenn) take 900 mg of DHA omega-3s a day (I actually take a purified fish oil available by prescription). Why so much emphasis on DHA? DHA is the healthy fat your brain needs — it is not a storage fat but a structural fat. Only 2% of ALA (a healthy omega-3 in avocados and walnuts) makes it to EPA, the omega-3s thought to be healthiest for your heart. Only 2% of EPA goes to DHA. But, DHA readily goes to EPA, so for the healthiest brain and heart, you want 900 mg of DHA a day. We eat avocados and walnuts too.
Focus on produce for brain-pampering vitamins. Drive-through dining with a multivitamin chaser won’t cut it. Aim to eat a rainbow of brightly-colored produce for your vitamin C. Get your B’s here: B6 from baked potatoes, roasted skinless chicken breast and chickpeas; seafood, yogurt or nutritional yeast for vitamin B12; and folate (yep, it’s in the B family) from spinach, lentils, papayas and asparagus. Add almonds, sunflower seeds, spinach or hazelnuts for your dose of mixed tocopherols (known as the active component of vitamin E). Top it off with a vitamin D supplement (1,000 IU of vitamin D before age 60, 1,200 after).
Enjoy lean, free-ranged (not fatty, feedlot or corn-fed) meats, and watch your sweets white carbs. Limiting these also helps protect your thinking ability. Treat foods with saturated and trans fats and added simple sugars and syrups like criminals (they are). They steal your memories (and increase your risk of other bad things). Choose grass fed beef (way less artery-clogging saturated fat than corn fed); fruit veggies. Try to minimize grains (you don’t have to completely avoid them, I shoot for no more than 50 grams of carbs a day from grains. Sometimes, a guy just wants a sandwich).
Use Curcumin (or tumaric) as a seasoning spice for food. Cheap mustard? Yes, the yellow cheap stuff apparently is made with tumaric to give it taste rather than the more expensive mustard seed. The amount in an average teaspoon is 17 mg. But, enjoy two to be sure, every day.
Do exercise with (as a bare minimum) 2 minutes of very intense exercise at the end of 30 minutes of walking or whatever a day, if your doc says you can. Impressive new research reinforced exercise’s importance as a secret sauce against Alzheimer’s. The study didn’t just do the usual memory tests. Most of my readers do more than this. It tracked the results against scans of brain sizes. In this case, a bigger brain means a better memory. Try kettlebells or CrossFit, or train for a triathlon.