Tuesday, March 26

Food for the Brain

By Eunice Trotter

Ever wish there was something you could eat or do to make your memory better?

Lots of people pooh-pooh it, but the fact is that some foods can enhance how your brain functions, giving you more clarity and focus and improving your memory.

Brain-healthy foods are frequently on the menus of American Senior Communities facilities. The foods include fish, which is high in protein, blueberries with their powerful antioxidants, and nuts and seeds, packed with protein and essential fatty acids.

Here are the top brain foods we share with our residents and how they help:

Berries – A diet high in strawberries and blueberries, among other berries, is linked to a slower decline in memory.

Walnuts – They contain anti-inflammatory nutrients and are a good source of alpha linolenic acid, which reduces the risk of hardening arteries and high blood pressure.

Olive oil – Slows brain deterioration.

Fish – Oily fish, such as salmon and sardines, is linked to lowering the risk of dementia. Fish enhances focus and memory.

Coffee – Improves mental acuity.

Spinach Helps protect against mental decline.

Avocado Improves vascular health and blood flow.

Water Prevents dehydration, which can impair memory.

Many other foods also keep the brain healthy. Beets improve blood flow to the brain, garlic staves off some forms of brain cancer, broccoli is known to improve brain power, wheat germ and eggs can boost memory, and tomatoes contain lycopene, a powerful antioxidant that helps protect against free-radical damage associated with dementia, especially Alzheimer’s disease.

Eunice Trotter is communications specialist for American Senior Communities, which operates 60 Senior Health and Memory Care locations throughout Indiana.  

Thursday, March 21

Let Nutrition Drive Your Race Success

by Craig Jordan

Anyone who has ever engaged in a competitive race has likely experienced one of two feelings after crossing the finish line: 1) I didn’t train enough, wasn’t prepared and had a bad day, or 2) That was awesome, because my hard work paid off and I could’ve run even faster.

If you’ve experienced that first feeling, there is a chance you’ve made a promise to modify your training regime or racing tactics to improve your future race performance.

Too often, people overlook one important change that can be key to race-day success: Modifying your nutritional intake before a race is as important as training and tactics.

Here are some changes I’ve found successful and easy to adopt.

1. Drink plenty of water. Sports drinks and other fad beverages promoted as part of a healthy lifestyle can often have a negative effect on performance because of the added calories they bring to your diet. I carry a water bottle with me to make my commitment to water easier. Drinking water helps cleanse my body and has improved my overall commitment level because I feel better.

2. Be consistent with meal times and the foods you select. In the weeks leading up to a big race, remove processed foods from your menu. Focus on natural ingredients, whole grains and leafy greens. Have fruits and nuts ready for regularly scheduled snack times. Relying on fast food and easy meals ahead of a competition is lazy – behavior that can translate to your performance on race day. Similarly, your commitment to healthy, regular meals will make you stronger when it matters.

3. Pattern your diet on a friend’s. A commitment to modifying your nutritional intake is easier when you have a support system in place. Think of making changes with a friend, or seek out the advice of a friend who makes nutritional choices you want to emulate.

4. Don’t make early nutritional changes too drastic. Positive changes that stick often start as small commitments. At first, take easy steps to modifying your nutrition. For example, if you love sports drinks, try to replace just one a day with water at the start. Over time, you’ll find your desire for sports drinks will lessen, which will encourage you to drink more water.

Nutrition is a big factor in performance. It’s why as of March 18, I’ve decided to take the small step of replacing my daily intake of Dr. Pepper with water (and I love Dr. Pepper).

What small modification will you make to be healthier and enhance your performance?

Guest blogger Craig Jordan is an elite-level runner who competes for Butler University in the NCAA Division 1 level of Track and Field. He is a two-time Atlantic 10 Conference Champion, and currently works as a health and fitness intern at JCC Indianapolis.