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Super Foods 3: Saving Your Brain

Huperzia Serrata plant

We all forget things once in a while, but what if you forget a good friend’s name, or an important date or appointment? That gets scary.

Did you know that, left on its own, our brain actually begins to shrink by midlife?  And that nearly 1 in 8 of us is expected to suffer from Alzheimer’s at some point?   With 10,000 boomers a day turning 65, that’s a healthcare crisis on the horizon.

But there is good news…

The Chinese have used the extract of the small-toothed clubmoss called Huperzia Serrate, also known also as Qian Ceng Ta or Jin Bu Huan, that grows in China, India and Hawaii, to safely treat all forms of dementia in over 100,000 sufferers since 1999.

It has no serious adverse effects – unlike the claims about most Alzheimer’s drugs – and in the US is sold online, in health food stores and oriental herb stores as a nootropic or mental enhancer.

As a super food, it is more in the category of a supplement, like spirulina, or fish oil, rather than an edible for meals.

The extract of Huperzia used in China today is call Huperzine A and is a highly purified version containing just one single chemical, giving it it’s potency when administered as a drug.

Based on several studies, up to 400 micrograms per day is recommended to help prevent memory loss and cognitive decline. Of course, you must check with your doctor before taking anything, especially if you are taking other medications.

How big is the problem facing this little plant? 

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the most common cause of dementia and is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States.  And the current trend of one in eight Americans suffering from AD is expected to continue or even increase.

Then there’s the other 15 million Americans who care for a loved one stricken with Alzheimer’s.

The impact of this on not only the families but the entire health care system could be devastating as 10,000 baby boomers a day turn 65 – the danger zone for AD.

So whether you have a family member who’s suffered from Alzheimer’s, you’re starting to notice your memory is not as sharp as it used to be, or you want to protect yourself for the future, it is now a crucial time to strengthen your brain.

What is the actual problem this super food solves?

Our brains produce a chemical compound called acetylcholine which is vital to memory, judgment and clarity of thought. It is the most abundant and essential neurotransmitter that relays signals from one neuron to another in our brain.  Without it, we would have no memories or even thoughts.

Like most things, as we age, acetylcholine levels naturally drop and those wonderful “senior moments” creep in.  As annoying as they may be, they are for the most part, sporadic and don’t necessarily get in the way of living a normal life.

However, Alzheimer’s patients produce a brain enzyme called acetylcholinesterase (AChE) which breaks down acetylcholine even further.  That breakdown leads to many of the cognitive problems linked to the disease because neurons begin to have trouble sending and receiving messages and ultimately communication is terminated altogether. That’s when the fogginess and debilitating forgetfulness begins.

How do I know Huperzia or Huperzine A actually works?

In 20 years of published studies this natural remedy has been proven to slow down AChE activity, acting as a buffer and blocking AChE from reaching the acetylcholine. That then stops the breakdown of acetylcholinexiv and enables the brain to strengthen neuronal connections and function properly.

The extract, Huperzine A,  has been shown to reduce oxidative damage caused by plaque in the brain and can improve learning performance. Free radicals can also affect the brain and cause memory loss and Huperzine A to protects against free radical‐induced cell damage.

What else can I do besides using this super food for my brain health?

Along with Huperzine A, here is a simple 5-step prevention plan you can follow aimed to help you protect your brain and preserve your memory. These small changes will make a huge and positive impact. With Huperzine A and these strategies, it is possible to charge up your cognitive function and improve brain health – a step at a time:

1. Think and Stay Fit

We all know that extra pounds, particularly around the middle are a health threat. Excess fat makes hormones that create inflammation and raises the chance of memory loss.

A study from The Mayo Clinic found that any type of moderate exercise reduces people’s risk by more than 30 percent – walking, running, golfing, swimming, gardening, cleaning – anything physical that will get the blood pumping to your heart and brain. Proper blood flow means proper oxygen levels, which result in your brain cells communicating.

2. Keep Your Cholesterol Levels In Check

By now we know not all cholesterol is the same. Research has shown that too much of the “BAD” LDL cholesterol increases plaque in the brain and depletes the needed antioxidants that prevent plaque damage and inflammation.  So balance your total cholesterol by raising your “GOOD” HDL cholesterol.

How? More super foods, of course!

Add olive oil, nuts, avocados and fish high in omega-3s to your diet.  Be sure to download your free copy of Super Foods, Super Delicious – gourmet recipes that will make getting these nutrients a delicious treat.

And if you are a wine drinker, you are going to love this – alcohol in moderation has been known to raise HDL levels.

3. Do NOT Deprive Yourself of the Foods You Love (yup, you heard me right) 

This certainly is not a hard step to follow.

Your brain enjoys when you feed it the needed fuel it needs to function. So believe it or not – some of your favorite foods actually work in your favor and keep Alzheimer’s away.

Foods like dark chocolate – everybody’s favorite super food – which has flavanols (antioxidants) that are anti-inflammatory and have properties that protect not only your brain but your heart too. Just two cups of cocoa can increase blood flow to the brain by a whole ten percent and in only two weeks’ time. That’s certainly not a hard thing to do.

Also, yummy berries is another memory booster. At least two or more servings each week should do it!

And all you coffee lovers can stop feeling guilty because a the result of a Swedish Study showed that  three cups of coffee a day may lower your risk of Alzheimer’s by a whopping sixty-five percent and helps protect the brain. As if anyone needed another reason to head over to Starbucks!

4. Get Enough ZZZZZZssss 

Who doesn’t love a good night’s rest.

The proper amount of sleep acts as an anti-inflammatory against chronic brain inflammation that deteriorates brain cells.

Sleep aids in maintaining a healthy metabolism and important to prevent weight gain and keep hormone levels stabile.

Sleep RX:  Shoot for at least seven to eight hours each night and work on keeping a regular pattern by going to sleep and waking up daily at the same time as often as possible.

5. Chill Out!

You must have heard by now…..STRESS KILLS. It is a brain shrinker among other things.

Being stressed out increases the production of the hormone cortisol and too much of that freaks out the neurons in our brain and damages memory and blurs our focus.

So manage your stress because cortisol levels lower back to normal when you do and so does your memory.

There are so many ways to lower stress, release tension and improve your physical and mental well-being. Deep breathing is one that also lowers blood pressure and increases oxygen in our blood vital to our body functioning.

So whether it is yoga, meditation, reading, journaling, listening to music or walking in nature – just stop and take the time to do something you enjoy – whatever the activity and if even for just 15 mins. Guaranteed you won’t be sorry you did and your body will be all the better because of it.

You are not powerless over Alzheimer’s!!

Since AD develops decades before symptoms even appear, there is plenty of opportunity to keep your brain healthy and counteract the aging process in the few ways mentioned here.

And you don’t need to have Alzheimer’s to benefit from these suggestions because we all need to take preventive measures to protect our brains and our bodies – our temple.

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