brain function

  1. Berries boost your brain

    The only downside of berries is the cost: My local supermarket was selling blueberries for $4.99 a pint the other day.

    Ouch!

    But while the price might sting, it's worth a little pain in the wallet to get your hands on some -- because ounce for ounce, berries are unmatched by anything else in the produce aisle.

    I'm sure you already know about the famous antioxidants in berries, which can help protect you from the free radicals that are always trying to undermine your body.

    And now, a new review of the research shows how berries can actually supercharge your brain and improve the way your neurons communicate. That adds up to better motor control and cognition and lower levels of dangerous inflammation -- all from a handful of delicious blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, or cranberries.

    Grapes and blueberries in particular have been proven in studies to help improve the brain function in seniors, especially those already suffering from some impairment, according to the review published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

    Of course, none of this is all that new or surprising (it's a review of existing research, after all). An earlier study, for example, found that the polyphenolics in berries help the cells that clean up and recycle the toxic proteins that accumulate in the brain with age.

    If that's not a good enough reason to boost your berry intake, consider this: Another new study shows that blueberries -- along with apples -- can slash your risk of diabetes.

    Researchers say people who eat two or more servings of blueberries a week -- as well as those who eat five apples a week -- have a 23 percent lower risk of type 2 diabetes.

    This was based on a food frequency questionnaire, and we know they're not exactly the most reliable form of research... so let's not get too excited.

    But plenty of other more reliable studies back the benefits of berries. And that's especially true of blueberries, which are so rich in nutrients they're a superfood in a class of their own.

    For all that, $4.99 a pint is a bargain -- because these little beauties are worth their weight in gold.

  2. Cognitive decline begins in middle age

    Senior moments aren't just for seniors anymore.

    Anyone can have a brain hiccup no matter how old or young they are -- but the latest research shows that the cognitive slide we usually associate with aging actually begins earlier than anyone would have thought.

    Much earlier.

    And if you're in your 40s, I've got some bad news for you: Your brain may have already passed its peak, and it's not getting any better from here unless you do something about it.

    More on that in a moment -- but first, the study that's going to be hard to forget: A look at data on 5,200 men and 2,200 women who took part in the Whitehall II study of British civil servants finds that people begin a noticeable cognitive slide at the age of 45.

    Over a 10-year period, men and women alike who were between 45 and 50 at the start of the study saw declines in every category except vocabulary, with an average drop of 3.6 percent in overall mental ability.

    Men between 45 and 50 also experienced a 4 percent dip in reasoning and thinking skills during that 10-year period, while women saw a decline closer to 5 percent.

    Obviously, older volunteers had even bigger drops -- senior men suffered a 10 percent loss in thinking and reasoning, while senior women lost about 8 percent.

    But the fact that younger people experienced any decline at all should be a wake-up call to take the actions now that can save your brain later -- and that action should start with the simple B vitamins available at any health food store.

    The Bs help control the most essential parts of brain function, everything from mood to muscles to memory -- and if you boost your intake now, you can protect all three... especially that memory.

    Studies have shown that seniors at risk of cognitive decline can slow, stop and even reverse the slide by upping their levels of B6, B12, and folate -- but as the new study shows, you don't want to wait until you're a senior to start getting your Bs.

    Start today... no matter how old -- or young -- you are.

  3. Deadly warning over common meds

    Pharmaceutical drugs are supposed to help you... not hurt you. Yet every time I turn around, there's ANOTHER report about ANOTHER way these meds can kill you. Here's the latest.

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