Dance to a Better Brain!

A fascinating study looked at how various forms of exercise re-wire the brain. Country dancing vs brisk walking vs other activities were compared. While all exercise benefits the brain, dancing showed superior benefits. Only dancing was shown to increase the density of the fornix - a key brain area for speed processing and memory. The mental challenge of learning new choreography and moving fluidly is thought to underlie these unique benefits


Go Green !

A recent study in Neurology found that eating leafy greens is associated with better memory and a more youthful brain. Healthy participants underwent yearly cognitive testing and submitted dietary histories as to how often they ate leafy greens such as spinach, kale, arugula and romaine lettuce. Over a 10 year follow up, those that ate the most leafy greens performed dramatically better than those that ate the least. The difference was equivalent to being 11 years younger in age!


Olive Oil Benefits the Brain

Extra-virgin olive oil decreases brain inflammation, staves off Alzheimer’s and preserves memory according to a recent Temple University study. Researchers used a well-established Alzheimer’s mouse model to investigate the effects of a diet enriched with extra-virgin olive versus one without it. The olive oil mice performed significantly better on tests to assess memory and learning ability. The researchers then examined brain tissue from both groups and found dramatic differences. Amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles, the pathologic hallmarks of Alzheimer’s, were significantly reduced in the olive oil group. Additionally the neurons of the olive oil supplemented mice were visibly healthier, with stronger connectivity. 

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Caffeine Enhances Memory

While we’ve known caffeine improves attention, a new study from John Hopkins shows that it also improves long term memory. Subjects were given either a 200 mg caffeine tablet or placebo five minutes after studying a series of images. When subjects were tested 24 hours later, those from the caffeine group outperformed the controls in their ability to recall the images.


Prevent Inflammation

Chronic inflammation is increasingly being recognized as a risk factor for brain atrophy and Alzheimer's disease. A recent study in the journal Neurology found that elevated levels of inflammatory markers in middle age was associated with brain shrinkage later in life and poorer cognitive performance. Staying on top of chronic inflammatory conditions such as gingivitis, maintaining a healthy weight to reduce pro-inflammatory abdominal fat, eating an anti- inflammatory Mediterranean style diet, managing stress and getting adequate sleep are effective ways to decrease chronic inflammation. 


Brain Boosting Flavonoids

Multiple studies suggest that grape juice provides the same brain boosting flavonoids as red wine and may be a healthier alternative.  Both beverages contain flavonoids -  powerful antioxidants and anti-inflammatories that protect arteries from plaque formation, improve brain blood flow and have been linked to better cognitive function. Flavonoids in grape juice have longer lasting effects than those in red wine which are metabolized more rapidly by alcohol. Grape juice made from purple grapes are highest in flavonoids.