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It is so easy to take for granted the health of our brains.

In fact, most people believe they can live however they want and when medical problems arise, go to a doctor and get a quick fix in the form of a pill. What else are we supposed to think? After all, we see pharmaceutical companies advertising the latest and greatest marvels in modern medicine on television every day.

The truth is, the kindest thing we can do for our brain is exercise and eat right. Leading edge research is now showing diet and exercise have a profound way of determining the destiny of our brains health.

For years we have all been told there is little we can do to prevent Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia, but the fact is, you can decrease your risk by eating right, exercising and staying mentally and socially active.

Brain diseases are much like heart diseases. They develop over time through our behaviors and eating habits and just like heart disease; we can prevent neurological disorders and slow cognitive decline by eating brain-healthy foods and exercising.

A brain-healthy diet parallels heart healthy, anti-inflammatory and diabetic diets, encourages good blood flow to the brain, and is low in saturated fat and cholesterol. Like the heart, the brain needs the right balance of nutrients that not only includes protein and sugar but also provides protective antioxidants and fiber to function well. Keep in mind, a brain-healthy diet is more effective when combined with physical and mental activity and social interaction.

Managing body weight is an important factor in combating dementia. Studies show that individuals who are obese in middle age are twice as likely to develop dementia and those with high blood pressure and high cholesterol have six times the risk.

Diets high in saturated fat and cholesterol clog the arteries in your heart and brain. The most important thing to know is that the kind of fats and food you eat has a real impact on your brain's health. By increasing the amount of protective foods we eat, we can substantially lower the risk of cognitive function decline.

Foods that reduce the risks of Alzheimer's and other brain disorders include the following;

Foods high in Mono and Poly-unsaturated fats like the Omega-3, which helps by lowering blood beta-amyloid levels, a protein thought to play a role in Alzheimer's disease.

A Columbia University study found that the more Omega-3 fatty acids a person eats, the lower their blood beta-amyloid levels. It has been suggested that 8 ounces of fish a week should be enough. For a list of common fish and the amount of Omega-3 they each contain visit www.mykitchenprescription.com and check out "Not all Fish are Created Equal."

Walnuts, almonds, pecans and hazelnuts are good source of Omega-3 fatty acids as well as olive oil and flax seeds. All the foods with Omega-3 are considered anti-inflammatory and provide the good kind of fat your brain needs. 1. Walnuts (And Almonds, Pecans, Hazelnuts) Beautifully colored fruits and vegetables are loaded with polyphenols, which provide protection to the plant from the sun's radiation. They have an abundance of anti-inflammatory properties and contain anti oxidants. Flavonoids fall into this group and are also in the antioxidant category. Antioxidants are the housekeepers in our body and help sweep away debris from natural and normal reactions in our bodies. Foods high in polyphenols include asparagus, brussels sprouts, cabbage, garlic, kale, kidney and lima beans, onions, peas and spinach. Don't forget the berries. If the word berry is in the title you can't go wrong. Strawberries, blueberries, cranberries, and blackberries are all good for your brain.

The dark leafy greens and dried beans also contain B vitamins and folic acid.

Cooks in India and other countries who use a lot of curry, show a decreased amount of Alzheimer's disease in their cultures as compared to westerners. Studies have shown that people who eat the most curry have the highest brain function. It is believed that turmeric, also known as curcumin, a yellow spice found in curry powder, is what gives curry its high antioxidant, anti inflammatory and anti amyloid protein properties.

Also, dark chocolate contains 70 percent or more of cocoa because it contains flavonoids, a compound that aids in circulation, can help in cognitive function. That is one tasty reason to switch from milk chocolate a delicious dark chocolate.

One study that is underway by the National Institute on Aging to see whether resveratrol, another compound found in chocolate, red wine, and grapes, can prevent dementia. I'll drink to that, just not too much until the results are in.

While most of us sit back and hope we do not fall victim to Alzheimer's, statistics say one in three people over the age of 80 will be diagnosed. By changing your diet, you can delay the onset or decrease you chance of getting the disease by as much as 40 percent.

I think it's a no brainer.

richardpatten@ymail.com