10 Foods to Boost Your Brain Health + Stretch Out Your Exercise!
What’s the one thing men dislike doing the most? To be fair, that's a pretty open-ended question. But if you said going to the doctor, you’re probably right. Apparently, June was Men's Health Month, but honestly, we should always be on top of our health.
Encourage the men in your life to see their doctor for an annual visit (no, you don’t just see a doctor when you’re sick), have preventive care such as screenings and vaccinations, maintain a regular exercise routine, and eat a healthy and balanced diet.
Talk to your doctor to determine which of these screenings are right for you:
Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) and digital rectal exam
Body mass index (BMI)
Low-dose CT scan (for smokers)
By following your doctor’s advice on screenings, you can catch problems early, when they’re easier to treat.
And one more important consideration: your mental health. While it may not be the easiest thing to do, men who discuss their emotions are less likely to be depressed or express them negatively. Given the past 15 months, COVID-19 has made an impact on many people’s state of mind. So don’t avoid care of this important part of yourself.
Guys, it’s time to take control of your health. Take the first step and make an appointment with your health care provider today.
THE TOP 10 FOODS THAT BOOST YOUR BRAIN HEALTH
These 10 diverse super foods have one amazing thing in common: they all contain brain-protective nutrients that can impact how you think and feel, and prevent some of the negative brain changes associated with aging. To boost your brain power, start adding these foods into your diet—in moderation, of course.
In adults, the hippocampus (the part of the brain that’s a center for memories, emotions and spatial orientation) loses about 1% of its volume each year.
Research has shown that eating blueberries, which contain brain-preserving phytochemicals, can prevent and possibly even reverse the shrinkage that’s associated with the onset of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Green Leafy Vegetables
Green leafy vegetables, like spinach, kale, escarole, collards, and arugula, are the most important of all veggies to protect the brain from cognitive decline. A study showed that eating leafy greens delayed cognitive aging by 11 years. Try to consume one cup raw or a half cup cooked greens each day. Many of the brain-boosting phytonutrients in leafy greens are fat soluble and are best absorbed when served with healthy fats like olive oil and avocados.
Inflammation is bad for your brain, and the omega-3 fatty acids in salmon are well-known for their anti-inflammatory properties.
Recent studies have even suggested that omega-3 fatty acids might help with depression, ADHD, and dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
If you can afford it, wild salmon has even more of these nutrients than farmed salmon. For a delicious way to prepare it, here's a recipe for salmon with cilantro pesto.
Beans are high in B vitamins and folate, and research suggests these nutrients help prevent or slow brain shrinkage. Eat any bean you like—they’re all great for you. Chickpeas, northern white beans, and black beans are great in salads and provide a healthy base for dips like hummus. Pureed cannellini beans also make a great base for a sauce.
What’s more, the high soluble fiber in beans feeds the good bacteria in your gut that in turn lowers inflammation throughout your body.
As you eat dark chocolate, the helpful nutrients (flavonoids) immediately begin to improve blood flow to your brain. These nutrients can boost your working memory and problem-solving skills. They also increase the amount of nitric oxide that is produced by the cells that line the inside of all blood vessels. This nitric oxide has an anti-inflammatory effect. It’s best to cook with unsweetened dark chocolate powder because it’s packed with helpful flavonoids and has no sugar.
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Coffee + Tea
Both coffee and tea can decrease the calcification of blood vessels.
Tea is even better, since it has less caffeine than coffee. Tea also contains a phytochemical called theanine, which has both a calming and stimulating effect, and that also increases dopamine, a feel-good brain chemical.
Also, you may or may not already know, but my Mom and I are MASSIVE FANS of PURITY COFFEE at our house! When my Mom had to go for her second lumpectomy, I was determined to find her the cleanest coffee I could find since she drinks it daily.
All of Purity Coffee's products (bundles, whole bean, 5 lbs. bags, single serve: tea bag style and pods) are always:
NEAR ZERO DEFECTS - For most coffee companies, taste is the main reason for removing certain defects. For Purity, health is the main reason, because some bean defects can lead to microorganisms & toxins.
NO MOLD EVER. Purity tests their coffee as it passes through each step of the supply chain, ensuring it is free from contamination.
SUSTAINABLE COFFEE - Purity Coffee not only cares about the health of their coffee, they care about the health of the people who produce it & the environment in which it is grown. Sustainable agriculture is “an integrated system of plant & animal production practices that will last over the long term”.
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Bright yellow turmeric is a spice commonly found in Indian curries and mustard, but you can easily add it to any number of dishes. You can sprinkle it into anything you cook, as the flavor is mild, and it blends well with almost all soups and sauces.
Turmeric helps remove a specific plaque in the brain that contributes to Alzheimer’s disease. But, eat the real spice and avoid the supplements. Only the spice itself has the antioxidant properties that are most effective in boosting brain health.
Cooked tomatoes contain high amounts of lycopene, an antioxidant found in many red, orange, and yellow fruits and vegetables. Lycopene reduces oxidative stress, which is damaging to your brain.
Tomato sauce and sofrito, two popular Italian and Latin-American foods, are great ways to load up on lycopene.
Pistachios are very high in vitamin E, which has well-documented brain-protective qualities.
The natural oil in pistachios also can prevent brain inflammation, and some studies even suggests it can reduce frontal lobe shrinkage in those who’ve experience certain brain injuries. Keep your portion size to a small handful.
Build a Brain-Boosting Diet with a Registered Dietitian
If you’re looking for ways to eat healthier or improve your health, call 888-847-8823 to schedule an appointment with a Virtua registered dietitian.
Source: By Gale Cohen, RD, CDCES, Registered Dietitian, Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist, Virtua Nutrition & Diabetes Care
8 STRETCHING AND
EXERCISES FOR OLDER ADULTS
As you get older, it’s important to make time for stretching and balancing exercises. Since bone density decreases as you age, falls put you at a greater risk for fractures.
To strengthen your balance, you should aim for 60 minutes of daily activity (like walking, tai chi or chair yoga) and perform the following stretches and exercises. If you work to keep full range of motion in your joints, it helps you take longer strides when you walk, and prevents you from tripping and falling over your own feet.
1. Doorway stretch
Stand in a doorway and brace your forearms against the doorframe. Keep both arms at right angles—your body should look like a football goal post. Place one foot in front of you and one behind so they're in two different rooms. Push your front leg through the doorway and hold 20-30 seconds per side. You should feel a strong but comfortable stretch across the front of your chest.
2. Calf stretch
Facing the wall, stand about 3 feet back and put your right foot behind you with toes facing forward. Keep your heel on the ground and lean forward with your right knee straight, arms on the wall for balance, if needed. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds per side. You should feel a strong but comfortable stretch in the calf of the back leg.
3. Shoulder rolls
Sit tall with feet flat on the floor. Roll your shoulders up, then back, down, and forward in a smooth, circular motion for 5 to 10 reps (repetitions). Repeat in the other direction.
4. Knee to chest
Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Bring one knee to your chest. Keep your lower back pressed to the floor. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds. Lower the knee to the starting position and repeat with the other leg. Do 2-4 reps on each side.
5. Ankle rolls
Stand on one foot. Raise the opposite foot a few inches off of the floor. Rotate your raised ankle in a circle in one direction, 10 times, and then change directions. Switch legs and repeat.
6. Heel-to-toe walking
Stand next to a counter or table with one hand on it for support. Position the heel of one foot just in front of the toes of the other foot, almost touching. Focus on a spot in front of you and walk slowly in a line for 20 steps. Or, you can face the counter, and put both hands on it. Step your feet apart and together and repeat.
7. Sit to stand
Sit in the middle of the chair. Place hands on opposite shoulders with arms crossed in front of your chest. With feet flat on the floor and a straight back, rise to a full standing position and then sit back down again. Do 10-15 reps.
8. Biceps curls
Hold light weights in your hands at your sides with palms facing in. Bend your elbows toward your shoulders while turning your palms up. Return to the start, and repeat for 10-15 reps.
Source: Jennifer Finegan, PT, OCS, Senior Physical Therapist, Virtua Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation - Westampton
Need Help Gaining Strength and Balance?
Virtua Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation offers convenient locations throughout South Jersey, as well as telehealth visits. Call 888-847-8823 to learn more.