Low-Cost Health Insurance
Gerald loves to eat. He loves sweet rolls and fried potatoes and thick steaks and gooey desserts. He also likes to spend several evenings a week downing brews at his favourite bar. His wife, Gerda, eats a carefully balanced diet of whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, skim milk, fish and lean meats and takes 20 high-potency vitamin and mineral tablets a day.
Who’s better off? Actually, both members of this hypothetical couple are playing a dangerous nutritional game. Gerald’s high-sugar, high-fat diet lacks several important nutrients, and his steady drinking puts him at even greater risk for nutritional deficiency. Gerda, on the other hand, eats a healthy diet, but the handfuls of nutritional supplements she takes may in fact be injuring her health. Some nutrients are dangerous in large doses, and too much of one nutrient can actually cause a deficiency of another.
There is a lot of hype out there about vitamins and minerals-if you believed everything you read in a health food store you’d wonder how anyone existed before bottled supplements. What’s the truth? Supplements won’t make up for poor eating or other unhealthy habits. Some people expect to get good health out of a bottle, but that’s not a realistic expectation.
On the other hand, some of us-whether because of inadequate diet, physical stress or other special needs-may not get an optimal amount of nutrients in our food. “Taking supplements is a practical way for a person to make sure he’s getting all the vitamins and minerals he needs”, says Jeffrey Blumberg, associate director of Nutrition Research Center. “You still need to concentrate on eating right, but you can look at supplements as a low-cost form of health insurance”.
But nutrition experts know where to draw the line. They know how to use supplements to enhance the health benefits of a good diet. And they know how much is too much.
Turn back the clock with fruits and veggies
Free radicals, Small points out, are oxidants that can do serious harm to your brain cells. Fortunately, vitamins C and E can help combat this damage.
“Recent studies,” says Small, “show that people with low blood levels of these antioxidant vitamins have poorer abilities.”
Scientists at Tufts University created a scale to rate the antioxidant power of foods. They place these among the most potent.
Blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, and raspberries. Enjoy these delicious and nutritious morsels on cereals, in salads, or by themselves as a sweet treat.
- Prunes and raisins. These dried fruits are high in calories, so alternate them with fresh ones like red grapes, oranges, plums, and cherries.
- Colorful veggies. Green spinach, broccoli, and avocado; red bell peppers and beets; yellow corn; and purple eggplant can brighten your brain with antioxidants.
Antioxidant vitamins aren’t the only ones you need to protect your memory. “Almost any vitamin deficiency,” Small says, “will affect brain fitness and should be avoided.” In fact, a B-vitamin deficiency is one of the first things he tests for when a patient complains of forgetfulness.
Include fish, lean meats cereals, and leafy greens in your diet to be sure you are getting all the important B vitamins. For the brain-boosting minerals zinc, iron, and boron, add nuts, whole grains, and dried beans.
Boron is an amazing mineral that prevent “mental meltdown”. It’s not considered “essential”, but it affects everything from hand-eye coordination to long-and short-term