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The Top 6 Nutrients for Brain Longevity

Article written by A4M on August 5, 2022 by Zuzanna Walter. Read the original article, here

Did you know brain health is one of the strongest indicators of longevity? And that of all the factors affecting brain function, nutrition may have an even more significant impact than most?

What we eat can affect memory, mood, ability to think clearly, and how long the brain operates at optimal levels. Healthy brain aging is possible even in the face of genetic and environmental risk factors. Mental vitality may be maintained or restored through a nutritious diet, physical activity, and stress management practices.

Below are six powerhouse nutrients for healthy brain function and longevity – each vital in maintaining healthy neural function and protecting from age-related decline.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Approximately 60% of the brain is comprised of fat, half of which is made of omega-3 fatty acids used to build brain and nerve cells. Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for brain health and longevity as they have neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory properties, foster communication between brain cells, and reduce oxidative stress. Studies have shown that these nutrients may help prevent Alzheimer’s disease and dementia and enhance cognitive function.

The standard American diet is very high in Omega-6 fatty acids and low in Omega-3, increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer. However, incorporating more omega-3 fatty acids can be accomplished easily through dietary interventions, often without the need for supplementation.

Food sources include: fatty fish (salmon, albacore tuna, sardines), soybeans, nuts, flaxseed, and other seeds.

B Vitamins

This family of vitamins assists nerve-brain communication and can help slow cognitive decline in older adults by lowering homocysteine levels. B vitamins are essential to the neurochemical synthesis of many neurotransmitters, and deficiency can cause memory loss, nerve damage, and mood disorders.

B vitamins such as thiamin and niacin help metabolize nutrients for energy, while vitamins B12 and folate can help protect against dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Food sources include: fresh fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, eggs, brown rice, cottage cheese, avocado, and whole grains.

Magnesium

This mineral is essential for learning, long-term memory, and overall brain health as it protects the brain from neurotoxins. Along with reducing excitotoxicity, magnesium has direct anti-inflammatory effects and enhances antioxidant status. Studies have also shown that increasing magnesium levels in the brain can reverse deteriorating neuroplasticity.

Food sources include: Nuts, seeds, dark greens, whole grains, fruits, dark chocolate, beans, and nuts

Choline

One of the most potent brain health-boosting nutrients is choline, which is involved in synthesizing acetylcholine – an important neurotransmitter. The nutrient can also reduce neuroinflammation and neuronal death; recent scientific findings suggest that lifelong choline supplementation may ameliorate Alzheimer’s disease pathology and associated cognitive decline.

Due to current dietary patterns, it is estimated that only 10% of Americans consume the recommended amount of choline per day, suggesting the potential need for supplementation to achieve such neuroprotective benefits.

Food sources include: eggs, soybeans, fatty fish, liver, red potatoes, and fiber-rich quinoa.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is an important antioxidant that can prevent or decelerate cognitive decline and improve memory during the brain aging process. It is believed to reduce oxidative stress caused by free radical exposure and can delay or even prevent Alzheimer’s disease progression.

Although vitamin E deficiencies are considered rare, those with this deficiency can experience nerve and muscle damage, vision problems, and a weakened immune response.

Food sources include: Nuts, seeds, avocado, tofu, whole grains, and green, leafy vegetables.

Lutein

Optimal brain function depends on lutein, the dominant carotenoid in the brain that can be found in every part of the brain. Contributing to brain health by quenching free radicals, lessening inflammation, and increasing neurotrophic factors, lutein also greatly benefits cognition, aiding in learning and memory. According to a joint Abbott and UIC study, seniors with the highest blood lutein levels showed superior ability to use skills and information acquired throughout the lifetime. Furthermore, research has also found that lutein levels in the eye are positively associated with visual processing speed and thus, alertness and brain readiness.

Food sources include: spinach, kale, corn, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, egg yolks, and avocados.

Key Takeaways:

Incorporating these six nutritional super-stars into the diet regularly can help support optimal brain health, protect against decline associated with aging, and promote longevity.

Please call the Burick Center to learn more about how we can help you achieve optimal brain health with a solid nutritional plan at 717-730-9000.

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Burick Center Staff MemberTracy Koval

Office Manager

Tracy joined the Burick Center for Health & Wellness in June of 2016 to help patients by managing various aspects of the office. Tracy brings more than three decades of medical office experience as the former office manager of a multi-specialty group and also works on a part-time basis as a Patient Service Rep at a local urgent care center.

Tracy’s favorite part of working in a medical practice is the opportunity to make a difference in someone’s life by helping them navigate through the maze of health care. She loves being part of the dynamic team at the Burick Center.

Tracy likes to spend time with her family. She has two sons, Mason, who is living and working in Philadelphia as a Sr. Analyst for a marketing firm, and Spencer, who works at Hershey Entertainment & Resorts.

Burick Center Staff MemberTom Baker

Strategy Officer

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Burick Center Staff MemberRena Geesaman

Patient Coordinator

Rena Geesaman is a Registered Medical Assistant who enjoys providing attentive and caring client service. She is very happy to be part of the Burick Center team where patient care is our number one focus.

Her goal is to do everything within her power to ensure every interaction leaves you feeling well cared for and perhaps even delighted.

Rena volunteers by serving as board treasurer for Carlisle Christian Academy. She also helps facilitate a program at River of God Church for single, pregnant girls which provides practical, emotional and spiritual support.

Outside of the office Rena enjoys hiking, traveling, tending to her flower beds, hosting meals on their back deck, enjoying time with dear friends, loving on her little dogs, and best of all spending time with family. Being fairly new grandparents, she and her husband Don are always happy to share pictures of their little grandson, Lucas. Feel free to ask! She considers herself amazingly blessed!

Burick Center Staff MemberDr. Peter Lu

Acupuncturist

Dr. Peter Lu trained and worked in New York City for 15 years and recently moved to central PA. He studied pre-med at Brooklyn College and attended medical school at SUNY Downstate in Brooklyn. Thereafter he worked in the inner city hospitals of New York City, and lastly had the honor of caring for people with his sister in Stamford, Connecticut.

Dr. Lu greatly appreciates open lines of communication as it pertains to questions you may have about your ailment and how acupuncture could help in the healing process. His intention to address your needs to the best of his ability.

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Burick Center Staff MemberLee Morand

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Lee has had the sincere pleasure of working in the Greater Harrisburg area for over 20 years. She relocated to Harrisburg in 1990 after completing her undergraduate degree in Nutrition Pre-Med at Cornell University. Lee received her first Master’s Degree from Shippensburg University. Her second Master’s Degree, as well as Doctorate, were both from Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine.

She uses a Cognitive-Behavioral approach to guide her work with clients across the lifespan. She strongly believes research has shown that changing your thoughts does change your life. Her primary focus with clients is to reduce symptoms by assisting clients to achieve skills they can utilize in their professional, academic, and personal lives.

Burick Center Staff MemberHeather Motter

LMT, Massage Therapist and Back Desk Coordinator

Heather Motter joined the Burick Center team in 2018. A graduate of YTI Career Institute, Heather prides herself on using her highly developed skills to maintain the balance between mind and body. As a licensed massage therapist, she specializes in Medical Massage, Lymphatic Drainage, Trigger Point Therapy, and Oncology Massage.

Heather has a vast amount of experience working with a variety of patients. From a simple relaxation massage to a patient dealing with chronic pain, Heather is able to facilitate treatments uniquely designed for each patient’s individual needs.

Heather insists that massage is not just a relaxation luxury. Instead, her philosophy is that massage helps lead to a healthier, happier lifestyle. She encourages everyone to take the time to meet with her to develop a care plan to enhance their overall wellness.

Heather is a resident of Carlisle, where she resides with her fiancé, two sons, and four dogs. When she’s not at work, she can be found outside working on her back yard oasis, or volunteering at Speranza Animal Rescue.

Burick Center Staff MemberFelicia Miller

Nutritionist

Felicia Miller is a Registered Dietitian and Licensed Dietitian Nutritionist who provides nutritional counseling and education to patients of the Burick Center for Health & Wellness.

She takes the science of nutrition with her extensive knowledge of food and coaching skills to create an easy-to-follow actionable plan for her clients to follow.

Recognizing that there are multiple components to creating a successful wellness plan, she looks at the whole person – their concerns, lifestyle, personality, family, and career. Listening to her patients allows for Felicia to find the root cause of their issue and not simply the symptoms.

“Being healthy goes beyond diet, food is just one of the pillars of a happy, healthy person.” Felicia goes beyond the traditional diet education- she coaches and supports her patients as they learn how to make changes in their day-to-day life.

“I’m passionate about whole foods and healthy living I strive to inspire you to make positive food and lifestyle changes – at any age.”

Burick Center Staff MemberAshley Weibley

Registered Nurse

Ashley is a nurse at Burick Center for Health & Wellness. Her nursing philosophy is one of holistic care. She is a patient advocate committed to clear communication, education and applying critical thinking and decision-making skills to help patients achieve better outcomes. She enjoys providing the highest quality nursing care in a respectful, healing environment. She has a personal commitment to life-long learning through formal education and hands-on experience. She appreciates that compassion along with innovative care is what the Burick Center for Health & Wellness is all about.

Ashley has an Associate’s Degree from Harrisburg Area Community College and a Bachelors Degree from Penn State University.

She is married and has twin boys, She enjoys spending time with her friends, family and pets. She has owned and shown Quarter Horses all of her life and continues to compete in her spare time.