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brain health

We all know how important regular exercise is for maintaining a healthy mind and body, but when it comes to proper brain function, it looks like a certain diet could actually be more beneficial than hours spent in the gym.

Research has shown that following a low-fat diet may help preserve brain cells as we age. 

Scientists at the University Medical Centre Groningen in The Netherlands discovered that a diet with 40 per cent fewer calories than the recommended intake contributed to reduced inflammation of subjects brain cells, as well as the maintenance of brain tissue. 

The research, published in Frontiers in Molecular Neuroscience, looked specifically at the Microgalia call, which keeps the brain functioning properly. 

And while the term 'proper brain function' might seem slightly vague, the research becomes highly significant when you consider that inflammation in brain cells has been linked to diseases such as multiple sclerosis, Rasmussen's encephalitis and dementia. 

It should be noted, however, that the best results were seen with a combination of a low-fat diet and limited calorie intake, and simply reducing the your fat intake may not be enough to prevent these change in the brain. 

Dr Bart Eggen who was the lead author of the study is quoted by PsyBlog as saying: "A low-fat diet per se was not sufficient to prevent these changes."

"Nevertheless, these data do show that, in mice, the fat content of a diet is an important parameter in terms of the detrimental effects of ageing on the brain, as well as caloric intake."

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A new study published in the journal Scientific Reports found that a couple glasses of wine a day actually cleans your brain.

Consuming alcohol in low doses can help the brain rid itself of toxins, including those associated with Alzheimer's disease. Low levels of alcohol consumption also help to tamp down on brain inflammation.

The researchers noted that consuming large amounts of alcohol is still detrimental to one's health, with lead author Maiken Nedergaard, M.D., D.M.Sc. saying: 'Prolonged intake of excessive amounts of ethanol is known to have adverse effects on the central nervous system.'

'However, in this study, we have shown for the first time that low doses of alcohol are potentially beneficial to brain health, namely it improves the brain's ability to remove waste.'

These findings join previous research that has shed light on the advantages of consuming low amounts of alcohol, including reduced risk of cardiovascular diseases.

Maiken, who is the co-director of the Center for Translational Neuromedicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC), examined the effects of alcohol upon the workings of the glymphatic system in the brain.

The glymphatic system is the brain's unique cleaning process. It uses cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) to clear away waste, including the proteins beta amyloid and tau, which are linked to dementia and Alzheimer's disease.

The study, conducted using mice, examined the differences between mice that were exposed to high levels of alcohol for long periods of time and those that received low doses for long stretches of time.

Mice in the acute alcohol exposure group experienced cognitive impairment and their motor skills deteriorated. The team also found that these mice exhibited high levels of a molecular marker for inflammation.

In the meantime, the mice in the lower-dose group showed less brain inflammation. These mice were consuming the equivalent of about two and a half glasses of wine daily, and their glymphatic systems showed marked improvement in efficiency.

'The data on the effects of alcohol on the glymphatic system seemingly matches the J-shaped model relating to the dose effects of alcohol on general health and mortality, whereby low doses of alcohol are beneficial, while excessive consumption is detrimental to overall health,' Maiken observed.

'Studies have shown that low-to-moderate alcohol intake is associated with a lesser risk of dementia, while heavy drinking for many years confers an increased risk of cognitive decline.'

'This study may help explain why this occurs. Specifically, low doses of alcohol appear to improve overall brain health.'

Cheers to that.

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You may choose certain foods to clear your complexion, prevent bloating or avoid blemishes – but what if you could boost your brain power every time you fill your plate?

As we head back to the daily grind and head into autumn, it can be hard to get our brains back into working order. 

The relationship between diet and brain health has been getting a lot of attention lately as scientists have been doing major research into the matter. 

Indeed, Rebecca Katz, author of The Healthy Mind Cookbook spoke to Harper's Bazaar about the movement. 

"It used to be that scientists thought that as you grow older your brain cells die," says Ms Katz.

"Now, we're actually seeing that our brain cells can regenerate – which is largely based on how we eat and exercise."

Want to know what these foods are? Here's a look at the seven super foods for a healthy brain:

 

Mint

Mint is a great source of vitamin A, which can help boost learning skills and increase brain plasticity. It also contains vitamin C which is said to protect against cognitive decline. 

 

Pumpkin seeds

Pumpkin seeds deliver generous helpings of iron in addition to a mineral trio of potassium, magnesium and calcium – these combined help in the delay of deteriorating mental health.

 

Cauliflower

This white fluffy vegetable is a great source of vitamin K which helps keep your mind sharp as you age as well as boosting your memory. 

 

Sardines

Even if eating them isn't totally appealing, your brain loves these teeny tiny fish. In fact, sardines are loaded wth vitamin B12 which has been shown to boost memory and fight off depression. They are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which help keep your brain engaged and boost mental energy. 

 

Beetroot

Beetroot not only works wonders for your skin, it is also known as brain food in the highest order. They are high in nitrites, which increase blood flow to parts of the brain. Vitamin B9 is also stored in them, which aids cognitive functioning and delays a descent to dementia. 

 

Cashews

These nuts are a great source of two brain-boosting minerals, zinc and magnesium. Zinc is important because it can warn off depression, as well as improving memory. Magnesium has been shown to regulate sleeping patterns as well as improve learning skills. 

 

Dark chocolate

The cocoa that gives dark chocolate its addictive flavour is packed with memory-boosting antioxidant powers. In recent studies, cocoa consumption has been linked to higher scores on cognitive tests and also keeps the brain switched on as you age. 

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