EAT TO CHEAT BRAIN AGE­ING

It’s not a myth — the right foods can su­per-charge your mem­ory, think­ing and prob­lem solv­ing. Learn what to eat to up­grade your brain power!

Healthy Food Guide (Australia) - - NEWS - Stephanie Os­field has won the DAA Ex­cel­lence in Nutri­tion Jour­nal­ism Award two years run­ning for her HFG sto­ries.

It’s not a myth — eat­ing the right foods re­ally can su­per-charge your mem­ory, think­ing and prob­lem solv­ing

Do you some­times wish you could boost your grey mat­ter with more RAM, speed and pro­cess­ing abil­ity? Al­though you can’t in­stall a whole new op­er­at­ing sys­tem like you would do in a com­puter, you can up­grade your brain func­tion us­ing the foods you put on your plate.

“Healthy foods are now linked with slow­ing the age­ing process in your brain,” says Cather­ine It­siopou­los, Pro­fes­sor and found­ing head of Di­etet­ics and Hu­man Nutri­tion at Mel­bourne’s La Trobe Univer­sity. “The right food may en­hance brain func­tion, and help pro­tect your mem­ory, as well as your abil­ity to think clearly and quickly. In the long term, a healthy diet also ap­pears to pro­tect against con­di­tions like de­men­tia and Alzheimer’s dis­ease,” she says.

such as long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, carotenoids and flavonoids that are found in veg­eta­bles and fresh fruit, and polyphe­nols found in wine, legumes and nuts.”

Be­fore you reach for a big bowl of pasta, con­sider this: “When peo­ple think of the Mediter­ranean diet, they think of spe­cial-oc­ca­sion meat dishes like lasagne or roasted lamb, but the tra­di­tional diet was in fact largely veg­e­tar­ian,” says It­siopou­los. “Each per­son ate half a kilo of veg­eta­bles per day, of­ten in casseroles, where you would get many dif­fer­ent types of veg­eta­bles, such as peas, car­rots, ar­ti­chokes and zuc­chini.”

They also ate plenty of dark, leafy greens. “En­dives, chicory, sil­ver­beet, spinach and other wild greens were picked from the fields and reg­u­larly eaten,” It­siopou­los ex­plains. “They are high in healthy nu­tri­ents called lutein and beta-carotene.”

All th­ese healthy nu­tri­ents are the likely rea­son that the Mediter­ranean diet ap­pears to of­fer some pro­tec­tion against de­gen­er­a­tive brain dis­eases such as de­men­tia.

“A re­cent sys­tem­atic re­view of 11 stud­ies world­wide showed that when peo­ple closely fol­low a Mediter­ranean-style diet they have a 50 per cent re­duced risk of de­vel­op­ing Alzheimer’s,” says It­siopou­los. “In an­other study of 7500 mid­dle-aged peo­ple, those on Mediter­ranean di­ets had im­proved mem­ory scores.”

For de­li­cious , Mediterr aneanin­spired recipes, turn to p44

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