Seniors & Food: Foods for Healthy Brain Function and Reduced Inflammation.

Maintain muscle, fight inflammation and improve brain function with a few simple additions to your diet. 

Here is a list of foods that pack an energy punch as well as help reduce inflammation in your body and boost your brain function. A perk of each of these foods is that they are needed only in small amounts and will not alter any specific diet you may be on such as low-sugar for diabetes or a heart-healthy diet.

1. Chia Seeds

Chia seeds are little power packs of energy. They are also high in fiber which is great for bowel and heart health. These tiny seeds were consumed by the Mayans and Aztecs thousands of years ago because they help with stamina. They were carried along on hikes through the mountains because just one handful can provide a meals-worth of energy and nutrition. Chia seeds are packed with protein, fiber, antioxidants and many vitamins and minerals including calcium and iron.

Sprinkle chia seeds on your morning eggs or lunch salad to give you an extra boost for your afternoon walk. You can also purchase ground chia seeds to add to a nutritional shake. 

2. Spirulina

There are so many benefits to this superfood from the ocean, we cannot even list them all here! When it comes to overall health, you cannot go wrong with adding a spirulina supplement to your day!

Spirulina is a blue-green algae which grows in the ocean. It is full of antioxidants, protein and energy boosting properties. This will give you energy and resiliency during your day, while improving your overall health and vitality. Spirulina is easy to take in tablet form, or via powder added to any shake or smoothie. 

 3. Turmeric

Turmeric is well-known for it’s many health benefits. From healing a sinus infection to soothing skin irritations, it’s a homeopathic wonder treatment!  Turmeric is a powerful fighter of inflammation. Ease those stressed muscles and tendons, while also easing the inflammation in your joints by adding this ancient spice to your diet every day. The anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric may help reduce inflammation in the brain, improving cognitive functioning as well.  Add turmeric to soups or sprinkle on eggs, or consider mixing up some “golden milk” which combines almond milk, honey and turmeric for a super-healthy, inflammation fighting drink. 

4. Apple Cider Vinegar 

Vinegars fight inflammation. Not only will it help your body recover after exercise, it will boost your metabolism for improved energy. Add apple cider vinegar to your diet by making your own salad dressings by blending the vinegar and oil, or add extra vinegar to a store bought dressing.

A quick vinegar treatment is to create a “shot”. Add one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to a small glass, add about two tablespoons of water and a small drizzle of honey to make it more palatable. Drink it quick and make sure to follow with more water. Vinegar is a prebiotic which will benefit your stomach, protect you from over-growth of candida and offers many other health benefits. Purchase apple cider vinegar which says “with mother” on the label to ensure an unfiltered, unpasteurized product with more health benefits. 

A helpful hint: Vinegar will fight foot fungus by creating an acidic environment where fungus cannot grow. Use a cotton ball to dab vinegar onto toenails and in between toes before putting on socks and shoes. Your sweaty feet will no longer be paradise for foot fungus. 

5. Egg Yolks 

We were told for years to avoid the yolk due to cholesterol and fat. Now we know better. Fat is essential. Recent research has proven the cholesterol in the yolk to not be bad as once thought because it is all natural fats, not synthetic stuff in processed foods that you should be avoiding. Cholesterol has also been proven to be a major player in building and maintaining muscle. Muscle atrophy is a concern as we age. The egg yolk is here to help!

The yolk of an egg contains all the amino acids necessary to build muscle. Full of vitamin A, B12, D, protein and riboflavin, the yolk is essential for muscle building. The yolk contains about half of the protein in the egg. The fat in the yolk is exactly what men need to keep testosterone levels at a performance level. Also, the fat in egg yolk is a healthy fat which human needs to maintain proper brain function. Just like fish oils, the fat in egg yolk is natural and easily absorbed by our bodies to aid all our processes. 

So, stop ditching the yolk! If you are trying to stay within a certain macros range with fats, yet want to consume all the goodness the yolk offers, try this: for every two eggs you eat, keep just one yolk.

6. Coconut Oil, Coconut Flakes

Healthy fats, such as coconut oil digest slowly and keep you feeling full longer. This is beneficial when you are sticking to a meal plan that compliments your healthy lifestyle. Coconut oil is made of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), which means they are absorbed more quickly by your body than fats from animal or daily products. These fats are used for energy at a cellular level soon after consumption. More energy in your body means better stamina throughout the day. MCTs are not as likely to be stored on your body as fat due to the fact your body can burn them efficiently during your workouts. 

Coconut oil also fights inflammation, has fewer calories than other fats and helps control drops in blood sugar. This oil is easy to add to your diet by simply replacing other fats such as butter and olive oil, or by cooking with a combination of coconut oil and other healthy fats. 

You can also purchase flaked or shaved coconut (unsweetened) to sprinkle on salads for added texture and exotic flavor. 

Coconut oil is very healing for your skin, so consider keeping a small jar of it in your gym bag to rub on chaffed or dry areas. 

7. Berries

Antioxidants are essential for our bodies repair and restore. Fruits and vegetables are the best sources of antioxidants however, fruits are often high calorie. Depending on your dietary goals you may be watching sugars very closely. 

Berries are often the sweetest, yet lowest in sugar of all the fruits. Most berries are loaded with nutrition and can be a fantastic treat for those of us who are always watching our diet and denying ourselves any sweets. A handful of berries can be dessert or a touch of sweetness blended into a healthy smoothie, added to oatmeal and sprinkled on cereal. 

These simple food additions to your day, can reap huge rewards over time.

By boosting your energy and your body’s ability to repair, you will be able increase stamina and brain function.