APRIL IS AUTISM AWARENESS MONTH
My teacher, Mira Binzen, child psychologist and children’s yoga teacher and founder of Global Family Yoga, wrote an article addressing the many benefits of yoga for autistic children. I thank her for permission to share this article from Yoga Chicago, May/June 2013.
Here is another article chronicling more practical tips to eat healthy!
MARCH IS NATIONAL NUTRITION MONTH- EAT WELL FOR A HEALTHY BRAIN!
With the growing baby boomer population, it is no surprise dementia is on the rise. Dementia is a broad term encompassing declined ability in cognition (thinking) leading to the inability to complete normal daily activities. The leading cause of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, over 5 million Americans currently suffer from and every 68 seconds, another American is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s (http://m.alz.org/facts-and-figures.asp).
To care for the brain, lifestyle is very important. A healthy lifestyle supporting optimal brain health includes exercise leading to a healthy weight; a well balanced diet; social interaction; and mental stimulation by learning new things. Obesity in middle age has been shown to double the risk of dementia in later life (https://www.alz.org/we_can_help_adopt_a_brain_healthy_diet.asp). Specific brain healthy foods include - dark leafy green vegetables, nuts high in Vitamin E, and omega-3 fatty acids in fish.
The article Brain Foods: the Effect of Nutrients on Brain Function by Fernando Gómez-Pinilla, discusses how nutrition is critical in maintaining brain health at the cellular level. The brain cells are lined by fat; about 30% of that fat is composed of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). DHA is not made well in our bodies. We obtain it through diet, specifically fish. DHA also affects activation of genes important for cognition and neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to change with new experiences. Not only does DHA have positive effects on brain function, a diet lacking in omega-3 fatty acids has been shown to increase the risk of dementia and mental disorders such as depression and ADD (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2805706/).
In summary, eat a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids, leafy greens, and Vitamin E, low in saturated fats and cholesterol for a healthy brain. It would seem that we really are what we eat.