Monday, 29 November 2010

Staying sharp

I love writing my blog but do sometimes end up writing it in a hurry so many thanks to the NITC reader who pointed out the error in last weeks blog on cholesterol (HDL cholesterol is in fact the good type, and LDL the bad). I hope you'll excuse me - we all have the occasional lapse in concentration!

Excuses aside this does make me think about staying sharp ... If you have a tough city job you're be expected to be on the ball the whole time, no matter how hungover, stressed or sleep deprived you are. However, often with age you start forgetting things, losing words and not making the same quick connections that used to impress your boss.

So what foods can help keep you on the ball?

Oily fish, nuts and seeds: Water and polyunsaturated fats are the two biggest constituents of your brain which is why it is so important to regularly eat foods containing the healthy essential fats such as oily fish, nuts and seeds. Infact omega 3 fats have been shown to slow the progression of alzheimers disease and may help slow other age-related deterioration. Oily fish also contain the nutrient DMAE which the brain can use to manufacture acetylcholine - a vital neurotransmitter for memory.

Green leafy veg, brown rice and oats: These foods are all rich in B vitamins which the brain uses in large quantities. A short term deficiency can quickly affect your mental acuity and B vitamin levels are significantly depleted by alcohol so it's always worth having a B vit supplement in the office to get you through a hangover.

Water: in the same way that dehydration seriously affects sports performance it also impairs mental performance. This is why it's important to stay hydrated to keep both energy and concentration levels up.

CoQ10: CoQ10 is an antioxidant vitamin that is also a key nutrient in energy production in the mitochondria of your cells. Whilst CoQ10 is often supplemented to increase physical energy levels proper brain function actually takes up a lot of energy too so it's important that your brain cell mitochondria are properly fuelled. I actually wrote my dissertation on the use of high doses of CoQ10 to slow the progression of parkinsons disease through improving the function of brain cell mitochondria - not exactly riveting reading but definitely a nutrient worth remembering. Oily fish, nuts and seeds all contain CoQ10 but you need a supplement to achieve therapeutic doses:

When it comes to supplements I'm also a big fan of resveratrol, a potent anti-aging antioxidant found in red wine which studies show can reverse cell ageing. I'm convinced that since taking resveratrol that my reflexes have sped up, although that doesn't quite constitute a clinical trial!

Use it or lose it: I've had friends complain of having 'baby brain' after coming back to work from maternity leave. I think this is partly as when you have kids your focus understandably shifts massively from work onto them. But I also think that if a particular brain function is not used for a long period then like a muscle it needs to be re-trained. This could be done by regularly reading something intellectually stimulating, doing sudoko/crosswords/logic problems, memorising your shopping list rather than putting it in your phone, or even just having a stimulating conversation ... being quick witted needs quick synapses so a bit of banter might just be good for your brain!

No comments:

Post a Comment