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Dietary Requirements

 

Your body needs vitamins to help you stay healthy and grow. Your natural source of vitamins is food and if you are eating a well balanced diet then you should be getting all the vitamins that your body needs for normal daily living.

Our brains are no different from the rest of our bodies when it comes to dietary requirements. In order to function at its best a brain requires a healthy diet high in nutrients, protein and essential vitamins and minerals. The brain consumes more than 20% of the energy that your body produces from food, simply in order to perform its routine functions. The key nutritional themes for good brain health include :

· Your brain needs a well balanced, low cholesterol, low (animal-fat) saturated diet.

· Obesity, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol all impact upon brain health.

· The NIH meta-study found that the Mediterranean diet, omega-3 fatty acids, folic acid (vitamin B9), and a high intake of vegetables to be beneficial brain foods.

· Protein and unsaturated fat is especially important for developing brains.

· Timing is significant in nutrition. Studies have demonstrated the importance of a good breakfast.

· Maintain good levels of hydration.

· You can enjoy caffeine and alcohol in moderation.

· As a general rule, good nutrition for the body is good nutrition for the brain.

A healthy diet has been shown to improve cerebral metabolic rate. It also helps your heart, and research has shown that the risk factors for heart disease are the same risk factors for vascular dementia. Having a good blood supply to the brain reduces the risk of stroke which is a risk factor for dementia. Research into ageing also suggests that cognitive decline may be slowed by a diet that is low in cholesterol and high in anti-oxidants.

Cholesterol

 

Cholesterol is essential for all animal life. Cholesterol is a type of fat made by your body and found in some foods. It is transported in the blood and used to build cell walls, make bile acids and sex hormones. About one third of cholesterol comes from what you eat and the rest is made by your body. A high cholesterol level in your blood puts you at greater risk of having high blood pressure, heart disease, a stoke and other diseases. Normally your body balances the cholesterol it makes with the cholesterol it gets from food. However, if you are overweight or eat too much fat then the cholesterol level in your blood rises. Then a change in diet and other lifestyle modifications such as exercise may be needed to help reduce your health risks.

Being overweight can increase your risk for serious illness. Your risk increases significantly if you carry excess weight around your middle. If your waist is larger than 100cm for men or 90cm for women then you should be considering developing a weight management strategy with your doctor.

Hydration

 

Hydration is vital for the efficient functioning of both our body and our brains. 1,700 litres of blood is filtered by our kidneys every 24 hours. The urinary system plays an important role in keeping the body’s fluid and chemical composition in balance and in detoxifying our blood. Although our kidneys can conserve water they cannot replace it. Drinking sufficient qualities of water is the only way to replace the fluids we need. A person's body, during an average day, in a temperate climate, loses approximately 2.5 litres of water. This must be replaced with regular drinking throughout the day. Strenuous exercise increases that volume. When the body is sufficiently hydrated, urine is a pale straw colour. Darker urine is a good signal that you need to drink more water.

The Healthy Eating Pyramid

 

Nourish your brain with a properly balanced diet. Like any high-performance machine, the brain needs top quality fuel. The healthy eating pyramid is a good and well known model to follow. For more information the following links are a good source of information :

The Harvard School of Public Health    http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/pyramid/  

Nutrition Australia   http://www.nutritionaustralia.org/national/resource/healthy-living-pyramid