The Beer Diet

Health advice for those of us who enjoy tipping back a few brews...
or sometimes a few too many!

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Gary's Natural Health Blog

To fully enjoy drinking beer for as long as you can, you have to take good care of your body.
And that's best done the natural way.

How to Beer-Proof Your Brain

 By Gary Greenberg 
  SuperWriter, Inc.

    As we all know, beer has alcohol in it, which is fun but basically a poison. And the organ that has the greatest love-hate relationship with alcohol is the brain, which you need to enjoy the pleasures of drinking beer as well as find your way home from the pub and otherwise survive.
Brain Beer Mug

    “Difficulty walking, blurred vision, slurred speech, slowed reaction times, impaired memory: Clearly, alcohol affects the brain,” say experts at the redundantly named National Institutes of Health’s National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism in a report entitled Alcohol Alert.

    Killing off too many brain cells eventually will leave too few to do all of the thinking and memory filing you need to do, with an increasingly common result being Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. The heartbreaking conditions rob you of your past and future, and make it hard or even impossible to remember where you left your beer, if you’re still allowed to drink one.

    The bad news is that the billions upon billions of dollars spent on researching Alzheimer’s and finding a cure has basically come up empty. We still don’t know exactly what causes it and have yet to find a substance that can slow down its progression. The good news is that you, yourself, can  reduce the risk of literally losing your mind.

Dr. Gary Small
Dr. Gary Small
    “There’s some exciting research that offers hope we’ll have a magic bullet in the future, but while waiting for that people can still do a lot to protect their brains and stave off the symptoms of Alzheimer’s,” says Dr. Gary Small, former Director of the UCLA Longevity Center who now chairs the Department of Psychiatry at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey.

    Here are some things you can do:

    Physical exercise: Exercise is “the single most effective way to keep the brain young,” says neurologist Dr. Majid Fotuhi, medical director of NeuroGrow Brain Fitness Center in McLean, Va. He suggests 45-minute sessions four times a week. Small adds that workouts should include a mix of aerobic, resistance and balance exercises.

Dr. Majid Fotuhi
Dr. Majid Fotuhi
     Mental exercise: Learning new things and stimulating your brain with puzzles and memory games help to keep the mind sharp. (Drinking games don’t count.) “It’s a case of use it or lose it,” says Fotuhi, author of Boost Your Brain.

    Eating well: Minimize processed foods and simple carbohydrates to help keep your weight and blood sugar levels under control. “Diabetes doubles dementia risk; obesity quadruples risk,” notes Small, author of the book 2 Weeks to a Younger Brain. Specific nutrients thought to boost brain health include omega-3 fatty acids, resveratrol, curcumin and vitamins B12, C, D and E..

Shrunken Head
Shrunken head (and brain)
  Sleeping enough: “If you don’t sleep enough, your brain will shrink,” warns Fotuhi. Obviously, no one wants a shrunken brain which, like a tiny house, has less room to store things. So try to get at least seven quality hours of sleep a night. And if you snore, make sure you don’t have sleep apnea. If you do, get it treated.

    Reducing stress: The fight-or-flight hormone cortisol released in stressful situations appears to cause at least temporary memory impairment. The experts recommend regularly practicing relaxation techniques such as meditation, tai chi, yoga and deep breathing exercises. Sex also works, as does drinking beer, so long as you only have one, or maybe two at the most.

    Getting screened: Just like having a colonoscopy to check what’s happening in your bowel, you can get a brain health assessment. “If you do a brain health checkup, you may find things that need to be fixed,” says Fotuhi. “The more time you have to do that, the better.”

    Adds Small: “It’s never too early and it’s never too late to start protecting the brain. Modifiable risk factors for Alzheimer’s probably account for half of the cases worldwide.”

For more beer-related health stories,
check out Gary's Natural Health Blog Archive