How to Protect An Aging Brain

May 3, 2020

If your brain is aging faster than you want it to listen in as two nutritionists share food and lifestyle habits you can adopt to help support your brain as best you can.

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Dar: Welcome to Dishing Up Nutrition brought to you by Nutritional Weight & Wellness. I'm Darlene Kvist. I'm a certified nutrition specialist and a licensed nutritionist and I'm really proud to say our team of nutritionists and dietitians at Nutritional Weight & Wellness have been sharing information about nutrition and health for the past 15 years. Right here, right here on this show and on this podcast.

JoAnn: That's a great milestone.

Dar: 15 years we'd been getting up early, JoAnn.

JoAnn: Yes!

Dar: Every Saturday morning. Joining us this morning is JoAnn. You just heard her voice and JoAnn is a licensed dietitian and a registered dietitian and she has just a wealth of information because she's been around doing this for how many years?

JoAnn: Many years. Over thirty.

Dar: Over thirty! She has worked with a variety of clients, so she understands changing your eating habits are not as easy as we think. But it can be done and it offers big rewards for people. When I stopped eating processed foods, many of our clients say it changed my life.

JoAnn: Yes.

Dar: I bet you've heard that many times haven't you.

JoAnn: Definitely, I also felt it myself when I made that change. It's huge. So good morning Dar.

Dar: Good morning.

JoAnn: And it's good to be here with you today.

Dar: It's been awhile.

JoAnn: It has definitely.

Dar: They let me out of the house.

JoAnn: Yeah, that's right. And right now because of COVID-19 many people are trying to change their nutrition and lifestyle to support their immunity.

Dar: Anyway, we believe that that's true.

JoAnn: And it is absolutely true. It will be helpful. But I also know people really struggle to do that right now with the added stress and with their schedules being thrown way off. It makes it a hard time to do that.

Dar: Yup when they're trying to work, take care of their kids, teach their kids, all that.

JoAnn: There's a big agenda right now for that. If you've listened to the immune experts who've been interviewed on TV, you have heard that the nutrition and lifestyle habits of people seem to be playing a big role in how strong their immune system is functioning and how well they will survive the virus.

Dar: So we wanted to share an interesting article that was published in the current issue of Scientific American. And the title of this article is "How Blood Sugar Can Trigger a Deadly Immune Response in the Flu and Possibly in COVID-19". For the past 30 years we as dietitian and nutritionists, we've been connecting blood sugar problems with like type two diabetes. I think most people know that. With heart disease, with cancer, with depression, with auto immune diseases, and now blood sugar problems are being connected to our immune response.

JoAnn: That's right.

Dar: So sugar leads to, this is how it works, sugar leads to inflammation, which can result in serious damaging effects from the virus. I mean, you know, it's just, that's what happens to people.

JoAnn: Yes. So I'd like to repeat that last sentence. So you all heard that it's so important. Sugar leads to inflammation, which can result in the serious damaging effects from the COVID-19 virus.

Dar: No, JoAnn, I'm not sure how many people even understand that sugar leads to inflammation.

JoAnn: Right.

Dar: But we know it does.

JoAnn: We do know it does, and we say this frequently, but this is really serious business especially now. Have you heard the term cytokine storm? And how the COVID-19 virus can trigger a cytokine storm, which leads to out of control inflammation. That inflammation often settles in the lungs and basically shuts down breathing. This virus creates a strong inflammatory response or cytokine storm, which hits hard, especially in the lungs. So cytokine storm is another term for severe inflammation.

Dar: So now when you're listening to all the TV reports, you know what they're talking about.

JoAnn: Yes. And think about the sugar.

Dar: The author of this article in Scientific American said, "Scientists analyzed blood collected from patients with the flu and also from healthy people and found that the flu infected patients had higher levels of glucose than healthy people." This author's article, along with lots of other research findings, suggests that it is possible that glucose or blood sugar metabolism plays a role in the flu and also in the outcome of it.

JoAnn: Yep, that's true. And the author of this article went on to say, "Given the role of glucose in the pathway, then a person's diet could have an effect on his or her response to a viral infection." And we know that's true.

Dar: Finally, it's getting out of the public.

JoAnn: That's right. The glucose connection could explain why people with diabetes are at a higher risk of dying from the virus.

Dar: This means that there is one more important reason to avoid eating high sugar processed foods. You know, at Nutritional Weight & Wellness, we believe eating real meat from grass fed animals, vegetables from your garden, and there's lots of people putting in gardens these days. And beneficial natural fats with the perfect diet to support key nutrients to support your immune function. So the goal is to be free of sugar and factory fats. Now I think we've kind of covered that, so let's turn our attention to the foods and lifestyle habits that support your brain as you age.

JoAnn: In these stressful times, my clients are really struggling with sugar now, but, so think about that. But here's a good question to ask yourself. Maybe you don't think your brain is aging, but is it aging faster than you want it to?

Dar: I think that's a good question. As people get older, they always ask that question.

JoAnn: Yes, yes. And I for a long time used to say, oh, I'm not having any memory lapses. That's just my brain being on overload.

Dar: Well, it could have been a little bit of that too

JoAnn: It could've been. But it might be an excuse. Right? But are you having memory problems or are you struggling with recalling the names of friends or family members or someone you've known for a long time that all of a sudden the name just goes blank. You think to yourself, I know that person, but I just can't pull their name out from my memory bank. Is this an occasional slip of the brain or does it happen often?

Dar: Here's some other things to think about. Do you have trouble finding where you put an object? I bet a lot of people are saying, Oh yeah.

JoAnn: My keys.

Dar: Maybe even worse: do you have trouble remembering the names of objects? When that happens, every object becomes a "thing". You ask someone, do you know where that thing is? Well, let me give you an example. You want to tell your spouse or a friend to buy you hammer at the hardware store, but you can't remember the name and you can't remember the name because it's the hammer, right? So you say "when you go to the hardware store, will you please buy that thing? You know that thing that pounds nails?"

JoAnn: Yes. And we have to describe it! Another sign of an aging brain is when you're starting to lose your ability to focus and concentrate. So this example is from one of my clients. My client took a clean plate out of the dishwasher. For some reason she lost focus, became distracted, and put the plate in the oven rather than in the cupboard. Has something like that ever happened to you? Maybe you didn't put it in the oven, but sometimes I find things in my kitchen that are totally in the wrong place.

Dar: Or sometimes it's in the refrigerator. Yes.

JoAnn: Yes, yes. Let me see how did this get here? Or maybe you sit down to pay your monthly bills and become distracted and totally lose focus and when you get distracted like this, the bills don't get paid, you may get some late fees, and that can be a huge problem.

Dar: An aging brain that just isn't working well often leads to people getting confused, which could cause them to lose the ability to complete simple tasks or have trouble thinking through a problem or figuring out a solution. So when your brain works right, your life works right.

JoAnn: That's right.

Dar: I mean that's really hard. That's a concept that people need to think about: when your brain works right, your life works right.

JoAnn: Exactly. So with that, it's time for our first break already. You are listening to Dishing Up Nutrition brought to you by Nutritional Weight & Wellness. I have a question for you. Do you wake up in the morning and plan your meals around what you will eat to nurture your brain?

Dar: Wow. Say that again.

JoAnn: Do you wake up in the morning and plan your meals around what you will eat to nurture your brain? It's a good idea, isn't it? Whatever it is you want in life, it is much easier to achieve when your brain works efficiently. When we come back from break, we will share foods that support good brain function.

Dar: Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. I have a few more questions for you today. How are you going to feed your brain to have a good memory, to have good moods, and have good energy? Are you one of those who say to yourself every day, I know I should eat better, but I'll start tomorrow. However, tomorrow never comes. How do you treat your brain with a little love and respect? That's an interesting thought. You know, treat your brain with a little love and respect.

JoAnn: It is.

Dar: So today, JoAnn and I want to help you develop the habit of making brain healthy food choices. First of all, I want to tell you that I never skip breakfast, even when I have to get up early, never skip breakfast. Because I understand that when I wake up, my brain is looking for nutrients to help it function optimally throughout my day. And I need that help right now. And here's one breakfast idea. It can be simple. It doesn't have to be difficult. I just take up a couple hardboiled eggs and these are from grass fed chickens and I smashed them together with organic, full fat cottage cheese. And then I spread that on two light rye WASA crackers. And with that I usually have maybe half a cup of berries or something, you know, to complete that. How simple is that? Very simple.

JoAnn: That's right. That's right. And I this morning made, actually this morning I had a protein shake, but I made it last night. So again, just to be ready for an early morning, you can do that. You can... I've even done eggs the day before and gotten up and just warm them slightly and had eggs in the morning.

Dar: Or you certainly could do the cottage cheese on the boiled eggs together the night before. Yes.

JoAnn: Yup. So the protein in the eggs and cottage cheese support the production of all the neuro-transmitters, or brain chemicals, and the egg yolk contains a special kind of brain fat called omega-3 DHA. Researchers have found that boosting your intake of omega-3 DHA fatty acid is one of the best ways to develop memory and better moods. DHA is the fatty acid in the retina also that maintains good eye health.

Dar: DHA is really an important fatty acid, yes.

JoAnn: It is amazing.

Dar: In the brain omega-3 DHA fatty acid forms the cell membrane, which is critical for good brain function. Omega-3 DHA is found in eggs from pastured chicken and in fatty fish such as salmon. And I actually personally recommend supplementing with two to four omega-3 DHA supplements. They're soft gels are small, they're easy to take, and your brain needs it. And the retina needs it.

JoAnn: That's right. I've often found when clients add DHA in specifically that they do notice a big difference in their ability to focus. So that's helpful. So we were talking about brain health this morning and oftentimes clients who have had chemotherapy for cancer treatment complain that they have what is called "chemo brain". I remember when my dad had chemo 20 years ago, he talked about chemo brain.

Dar: Oh really? And they're still talking about it.

JoAnn: They are, and they have memory issues, especially maybe for the names of people and word recall. But I remember when my dad went through that chemo brain thing, he developed balance issues and started falling.

Dar: Okay. Interesting.

JoAnn: So that's another twist on how chemotherapy affects your brain.

Dar: Right. Because your balance is from your brain.

JoAnn: Right. And this is because chemotherapy used for certain cancer treatments contains a harsh chemical that can destroy the cancer cells and also age the brain. So I find it interesting that many memory issues, which are the result of chemotherapy are very similar to the problems of an aging brain. And I always think of it like it just ages the brain before the brain really was ready to be aged.

Dar: Uh huh. t's kind of interesting, but JoAnn, you and I, you're a dietitian. I'm a nutritionist and we have a lot of clients who say, you know, my mother had Alzheimer's disease and I'm worried that my mother's genetics, I'm going to get that. So they're worried that they're going to get Alzheimer's disease too. So it surprises them to learn that only a small percentage of Alzheimer's disease is actually the result of genetics. But it is the result of nutrition and lifestyle habits.

JoAnn: Right. That is so important.

Dar: Yes. I mean, we could say that the same thing for arthritis. Or we could say it for a lot of different things or diabetes. I mean, that's another one that we hear all the time.

JoAnn: Definitely connected all of, all of that connected to blood sugar and inflammation. So since I am a new grandmother of a new baby boy, I was curious about what the author of *You Are What Your Grandparents Ate* said about the brain development in newborns. Judith Finlayson said, "What and how much of newborn is fed is probably the single greatest influence on its cognitive development." And she went on to say that breast milk is the gold nutritional gold standard.

Dar: So I bet your daughter is..

JoAnn: My daughter is 100% onboard with breastfeeding. She does a great job with that. And even the 18 month old wants a little once in awhile. She's got her hands full. But breast milk is the nutritional gold standard. Judith Finlayson continued by saying, "Healthy brain development requires nutrients, protein, healthy fats such as omega-3 fatty acids, the minerals iron, zinc, copper, selenium, vitamin A, folate, and the amino acid choline."

Dar: Wow. Just think about that.

JoAnn: All of that is in breast milk. Yup. And it's so much superior to formulas. Poor nutrition has been associated with emotional problems such as depression, anxiety, and hyperactivity.

Dar: I think that's another new thought for a lot of people. Thinking about this, if a newborn needs protein, healthy fats, a variety of minerals such as iron, zinc, copper, selenium, vitamin A, folate, the amino acid choline, it would make sense, I think, that we should never really lose those basic nutritional requirements. Our brain needs those things.

JoAnn: That's right.

Dar: We need those as we get older and keep our brain functioning. So good nutrition actually helps us put the brakes on brain aging. You know, I personally plan my nutrition to support my brain so I can keep my memory, be able to focus and concentrate, be in a kind of upbeat mood most days, and be able to talk and laugh with friends. And my nutrition to support my brain is very, very, very important, especially at my age.

JoAnn: That's right, at all of our age.

Dar: Probably at all of our ages. Yes.

JoAnn: Yes. Dar, I totally agree. Nutrition for a well functioning brain is vitally important. I also know there are certain lifestyle habits that are critical to maintain a well functioning brain. And I want to talk about some of those habits. The number one brain habit without a doubt is getting at least seven and a half hours of sleep most nights. In the past I have spent many years struggling with getting adequate sleep.

Dar: I know, you've talked about it before.

JoAnn: I have talked about it before, and even if I was in bed the right amount of time, I would be awake at times. Very frustrating. So I certainly paid the price for that, but over the years on Dishing Up Nutrition, we've talked about the importance of sleep for weight loss, for stress reduction, for job success, and now we're connecting the lack of sleep with how it ages your brain.

Dar: So actually people, just think about this. Getting less than seven and a half hours of sleep has been associated with decreased brain function. Wow. When you just think about that. Decreased brain function. If you're sleeping five hours, you're probably going to have decreased brain function. So the lack of sleep can affect your weight, your skin, your mood, your health, and your decision making. Lack of sleep affects your awareness, your judgment, your impulse control, your memory, and the aging of the brain.

JoAnn: Wow, that's a huge effect, isn't it?

Dar: Just that one little thing. Sleep.

JoAnn: Just sleep. It's huge, so it's time for our next break. You are listening to Dishing Up Nutrition. Vitamin D is another essential nutrient for the brain. Vitamin D is often referred to as the sunshine vitamin and vitamin D is also important for your bones and your immune system and as a necessary nutrient for good moods and for good memory. Low levels of vitamin D are associated with depression, autism, alzheimer's disease, multiple sclerosis, diabetes, cancer, and even respiratory infections. We suggest having your vitamin D level tested at least every year and maintaining a vitamin D level between 50 to 80 for good brain function.

Dar: And we'll be right back.

Dar: Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. This month, I'm turning 82 years old. It's hard to believe.

JoAnn: That's hard to believe.

Dar: But it's true.

JoAnn: You've a lot of energy for an 82 year old, almost 82 year old!

Dar: I know the brain can get sick and can age in many different ways. So I work very hard to maintain a good brain function. So how your brain functions at an older age is much more than just how well you've taken care of your brain. It's much more that than it is the genetics. And I have certain rules when it comes to feeding my brain and I'd like to share those with you this morning.

JoAnn: That's important.

Dar: So I never eat fast food and I haven't eaten fast food for probably at least 30 years and I never drink soda because I know those are not good for my brain. And I eat meat from grass fed animals and vegetables from the garden and natural beneficial fats. I never eat refined fats at home and I do my very best to not eat refined fats when I'm out at a restaurant. That's very hard though. I work hard to maintain a normal blood sugar level. So I check my fasting glucose numbers frequently cause you gotta know what you're doing. I make a point of drinking eight to 10 glasses of water every day. I make sleeping seven and a half to nine hours... usually it's more like a eight and a half hours each night. I rarely eat sugar or processed carbs because research studies after research study points out that higher blood sugar numbers are bad for the brain and it's bad for your immune system. So I don't drink alcohol now because many years ago I came to realize that alcohol is not a health food.

JoAnn: It is not, as much as we would like to think it should be. It's not. The media always carries on like it's such a healthy thing, but it really is not. It takes many, many glasses of wine to give us that resveratrol. Many, many, many.

Dar: Exactly. Like 200 glasses, I think if I remember.

JoAnn: It's a lot. And nobody would drink that much.

Dar: No, not most people.

JoAnn: We hope not. Our society these days and busy lives certainly don't help support our need for sleep. But I have noticed that there are a number of clients who seem to resist developing a brain healthy sleep pattern.

Dar: Yes.

JoAnn: And I think it's really hard for new moms or you know, just moms in general because that's the only, you know, that last hour of the day is the only quiet time that they have for themselves.

Dar: The only "me time".

JoAnn: So, that's a hard, that's a hard thing. But you know, we have to work it out so that you get a little bit of that me time but maybe get to bed a little bit earlier. But I don't think people understand how sleep deprived they really are. I think we get used to being sleep deprived and we don't really know how it's affecting us. So Dr. Matthew Walker, he's the author of *Why We Sleep*, this is a great book, said that when a person has chronic sleep deprivation, they don't realize they're less alert, they have reduced energy, and impaired performance. So sleep deprived people age their brain and live in a suboptimal state of psychological and physical functioning.

Dar: That's really interesting isn't it?

JoAnn: And you know, I think right now where many people are staying home and working from home, that's actually one positive is most of my clients are reporting a little better sleep.

Dar: Okay. Yes. Well you know, they're probably saving an hour each way on driving time.

JoAnn: Commuting. Yeah!

Dar: So JoAnn, did you know, most of our clients have some insomnia or other sleep problems. We have many people that have the sleep problems and, but actually after we work with them for awhile, they're able to get seven and a half to nine hours of sleep because they really understand that the lack of sleep ages the brain. However, we have other clients that resist making the necessary changes to get adequate sleep. So those clients that we'd really need to work with them closely and it would be really a great idea if they would come in and see us at least, you know, every other week so that we can help them develop good sleep habits and patterns. They have to be willing to give up those unhealthy sleep habits and establish healthy sleep habits to save their brain function. And I think some of our listeners out there, they're probably saying, oh yeah, that must be me. So as a nutritionist and dietitians, we have the answers. Almost everyone we can get them to sleeping the seven and a half hours. But we can't be there to tuck them into bed at night at 10 o' clock.

JoAnn: That's right.

Dar: Sometimes I'd like to.

JoAnn: Yes, I have learned how to adjust my schedule for sleep. And one of the things I learned early on in the process is I'm going to wake up between six and seven every morning no matter what. So if I go to bed at 11, I might wake up at six. I'm shorting myself. So I really have to make 10 o'clock the hard, fast time I go to sleep. So I've worked hard for the past 10 years to get at least seven and a half hours. I'm best with eight or eight and a half most nights. As a part of this process, I eventually had a sleep study - that doctor told me when I went in for an evaluation after I got started on the C-PAP machine, the doctor told me that I probably had sleep apnea since I was in my thirties.

Dar: Wow.

JoAnn: And I do believe that just because of the way things went. And that was about when my sleep problems started in my late thirties. So now I always encourage my clients who have sleep issues to have a sleep study. In fact, when I went in for that sleep study, the technician told me, you don't look like somebody that would have sleep apnea. I said, no I'm not an overweight truck driver, but you know what? You can't look like you have sleep problems. I mean, that's kind of a fallacy.

Dar: So you know, JoAnn when I had my sleep study, the other person that was having that same evening was a four year old young boy.

JoAnn: Wow.

Dar: And he also had sleep apnea. So it doesn't have to be somebody even older. It could be someone younger.

JoAnn: Right. Definitely. So a good restful night's sleep... If you don't get a good restful night's sleep that ages your brain. So Dar and I are going to move on to discuss how eating inflammatory foods can age your brain.

Dar: Are you thinking, so what exactly are inflammatory foods? We hear that term all the time. Well our longtime listeners know that sugar and high sugar processed foods are very inflammatory foods for your body and for your brain. So if you roll out of bed in the morning, go to the kitchen, pour yourself some breakfast cereal into a bowl, add some skim milk, you're eating a very inflammatory breakfast full of sugar and a breakfast that can age your brain.

JoAnn: Uh hmm. I think about how many years I did that. Many years before I saw the light and changed my ways. So if you sit down and have a bag of chips with beer in the evening maybe, you are aging your brain.

Dar: Yeah. So if you go to the big box hardware store for some light bulbs and leave with a 16 ounce bag of chocolate peanut clusters or even like a 22 ounce bag of barbecue potato chips that you kind of sneak secretly eat on your way home, you're aging your brain. Sugar and damaged fats age your brain. And I think of Mel, she always talks about that.

JoAnn: And she does. Yeah, I heard her tell that story. That was good. So if you pull into the fast food lane and order chicken nuggets, fries, and a soda, you are aging your brain sugar, damaged factory fats, food dyes and chemicals age your brain. My grandkids always want me to pull in, but they have gotten the point where they know, my five year old granddaughter says, "no grandma, I know you don't, I know you don't go there. My mom will take us there, but you won't take it there."

Dar: That's right. So if you drink soda, especially diet soda, instead of water, you are aging your brain. If you live on pizza that is full of damaged fats and that's all the pizza: fats and sugar. You're aging your brain.

JoAnn: That's right. What if your dinner is wine and cheese and crackers? You are aging your brain. Also, if you are deficient in vitamin D, you are aging your brain. So that one is really important now because vitamin D is also helpful for acute respiratory infections, which is COVID-19 but you know, we think many people say, well I'm getting a little vitamin D with my calcium or I'm getting a little vitamin D in my multi. Isn't that enough? And it's not anywhere near enough.

Dar: No. The people need to be tested.

JoAnn: Yes, they need to be tested. Definitely. Cause everybody's different.

Dar: So if you're pre-diabetic or diabetic, you're aging your brain. If you smoke or drink too much alcohol, you're age a your brain.

JoAnn: That's right. So I want to give you some tips to help protect your brain from aging faster. And the first one is eat 10 to 14 ounces of protein each day from grass fed meats. Now that might sound like a lot, but that is really a helpful amount. And you know whether if you have four ounces with each meal, that's perfect. And the second tip, eat a variety of vegetables several times a day. And number three, eat at least one tablespoon of natural fats several times each day and avoid refined oils and fats. It is essential that every day we eat six to seven tablespoons of brain healing fats such as coconut oil, olive oil, nuts, avocados, olives, butter, avocado oil, nut butters, or ghee.

Dar: You think about this, you know our brain is two things, fat and water. So we need to add healthy fats.

JoAnn: Exactly. And now it's time for a break. So we'll come back with more of those tips for good brain eating. So you are listening to Dishing Up Nutrition. For good brain function you will want to reduce inflammation. A great deal of research links many diseases to inflammation including cancer, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and alzheimer's disease . When you follow the Weight & Wellness eating plan, you are naturally eating an anti-inflammatory food plan, which in turn, will protect your brain from aging.

Dar: Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. I'm very happy to say that our nutritionists and dietitians are available either by phone or video appointments for all nutritional consultations. If you don't want to comb your hair or get out of bed and stay in your pajamas before your appointment, you don't have to! You can just, you know, we can still have a very productive appointment if you want to support your immune function, support your mental health, reduce anxiety, reduce aches and pains, or learn how to eat to protect your aging brain, we're there for you. So if you're serious about wanting to restore good brain function to protect your brain from aging prematurely, I encourage you to make an appointment. Each and every person has unique challenges. I mean, that's true. That's real unique health challenges. We have unique challenges with our lifestyle. And our dietitians and nutritionists are experienced and can offer many different solutions. As JoAnn mentioned earlier, we're offering $75 off our initial nutritional consultation. So now is a great time to make an appointment. Just call our office at 651-699-3438 and we'll set up an appointment that is really convenient for you.

JoAnn: Yep. And we would love to see you or hear you on the phone or on the video. It's very helpful for a lot of my clients, I found it very helpful to have that extra support during this stressful time.

Dar: Yeah. And sometimes it's just giving them some ideas of how to manage their life right now.

JoAnn: Or they're getting bored with their food choices and you know, we can kind of shake things up a little.

Dar: Right, exactly.

JoAnn: So that's helpful. So we have been talking about foods to heal your brain and one of the most important things I was talking about before break is those healing brain fats. It's essential. I'm going to repeat a little bit of this and then we'll continue. It is essential that every day we eat six to seven tablespoons of brain healing fats. And those fats are coconut oil, olive oil, nuts, avocados, olives, butter, avocado oil, nut butters, or ghee. I like what Dr. David Perlmutter says about adding healing fats in the book *Grain Brain*. I was looking through it this week and I found this wonderful quote, "I'm going to rescue you from a lifetime of trying to avoid eating fat and cholesterol and prove how these delicious ingredients preserve the highest functioning of your brain." I think that's so good.

Dar: Well that's great.

JoAnn: Yeah. And he said he went on to say we've developed a taste for fat for a good reason. "It's our brain's secret love." Love that quote.

Dar: So going back to some other tips here, you know, drink eight to ten glasses of water every day, more if you work outside in the summer heat. And maybe all are gardeners now. So besides fat, our brains are made up of about 75 to 80% water. So it is critical to stay hydrated for your brain and even your body. Here is a fact that some of you may be unaware of of if you're thirsty, you're already dehydrated.

JoAnn: Yeah, that's an amazing fact because I remember I learned that many years ago and I was like, wow, that is a really important thing to remember. If I'm thirsty, I'm already dehydrated!

Dar: Right. Yup.

JoAnn: That's right. So number five is avoid eating or drinking sugar or processed carbs in any form. So candy, baked goods, bagels, chips, pizza, soda, sugar laden coffee drinks, energy drinks, even lemonade... you get the picture. Pretty much all sugar drinks are off limits.

Dar: Sugar is every place. That's for sure.

JoAnn: It is. Everywhere.

Dar: Research from the UCLA in 2015 showed that high sugar diets interfere with the brain's ability to heal from a concussion. And I think we talked about concussions last week on the show. Sugar has also been found to interfere with the brain's functioning, if you have Parkinson's disease or if you have Alzheimer's disease. Or MS. Or if you're recovering from a stroke. If you have a family or a friend that's in the hospital, we kind of think it's better to give them flowers instead of cookies or a big box of chocolates. Sugar interferes with healing and ages the brain.

JoAnn: Right. It really does. And you know this, what you just said reminds me when I worked at Courage Center. A client, one of our clients who was recovering from a stroke, her daughter was on board with this nutrition. Actually, she knew more than I did about it at that point in time, several years ago. And she had coconut oil in her mom's room and she was giving her coconut oil on a regular basis and she was recovering from a stroke. And you know, in the end that woman did really well in her recovery.

Dar: Oh, that's a great story, JoAnn.

JoAnn: That little coconut oil story, I always, I was thinking about that. So do you feel like your brain just isn't running on all cylinders like it used to? You are having memory problems, if you are unable to focus or concentrate, after listening to today's show, you may be thinking, wow, now I realize my brain issues could quite possibly be due to one or more of these habits. Maybe you get less than seven and a half hours of sleep most nights.

Dar: So one of the things, you know, and I don't think people realize that honestly, I would say that many, many, many of our clients when they first come in to see us are not sleeping enough.

JoAnn: Right. Very commonly I see four to six hours. Or even four to five hours.

Dar: Yeah. And they don't even realize that some of these medications that help people sleep really don't rest the brain.

JoAnn: That's true.

Dar: So they're not in getting in any better shape by taking these medications.

JoAnn: And they need that good REM sleep really to heal the brain.

Dar: And a couple of things that we always talk about and I'm not sure how much time we have just to make sure, but we always talk about, you know, using magnesium to relax people. And also one that is being used a lot now and I really recommended often for people is melatonin.

JoAnn: Right. I use both of those. They helped me tremendously with sleep. Helped me turn this whole thing around.

Dar: So it is possible, even if you have had a sleep problem for 20 years. I mean I've had a client like that recently. We can get this so that pretty soon that person is sleeping, sometimes like you said, come in, they've sleeping four hours a day. Then we get them up to six, then we get them up to seven, and gradually…

JoAnn: Gradually make little changes that make that night's sleep longer, which is perfect. So maybe you have a diet that consists mostly of high sugary processed foods.

Dar: So you just gotta give it up.

JoAnn: That can be a lot of us, but you know, you do just have to give it up and find other substitutes that are a lot healthier, like an evening snack that I love is an apple, a small apple with some peanut butter.

Dar: Right.

JoAnn: That's wonderful, instead of a sweet treat.

Dar: Right. Exactly. Easy.

JoAnn: I eat one or more sweet treats every day. So again, maybe find some good substitutes for that, or perhaps my brain issues are from all of the above. So if you can relate to any of those things, I would suggest you make an appointment with one of our dietitians or nutritionists at Nutritional Weight & Wellness. We can help you change your eating habits and sleep hygiene to protect your brain from aging prematurely. So again, we are currently offering $75 off our two hour initial consultation. So it might be just the right time for you to see one of our nutrition experts. So give us a call at (651) 699-3438 to set up an appointment. Or if you prefer, go to to make your appointment. We can give you the help and support you need to heal your brain and slow down the aging process of your brain.

Dar: So you know, if you're a person that says, Oh, I don't know how in the world I could ever give up eating sugar. We have many, many steps that we help people. There are things, you know, it's kind of interesting. I don't think people realize some of these things. If you are low in zinc and we know that zinc is really critical right now for your immune function. More and more research is showing that, if you're low in zinc, you crave a dessert after a meal.

JoAnn: Absolutely. Right. So our goal and Nutritional Weight & Wellness is to help each and every person experience better health through eating real food. It's a simple yet powerful message. Eating real food is life changing. Thank you for listening and have a safe and healthy day.

Dar: Thank you JoAnn.

JoAnn: Thank you!

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