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National

March 14, 2018

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World Dieticians Day today: What is good for the heart is good for the head

Islamabad: The loss of cognitive functions is dreaded as it not only limits mobility but also affects peoples’ relationships with their near and dear ones. Most of us underestimate the power of dietary choices in supporting brain health. There are no special foods to buy. It is the consumption of a variety of brain-boosting foods, or a dietary pattern, that makes a real difference in keeping our brain healthy.

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Consultant nutritionist at Shifa International Hospital (SIH) Dr. Rezzan Khan shared this piece of information while talking to ‘The News’ here Tuesday in connection with World Dieticians Day, which is observed every year on March 14. SIH too will observe the day today (Wednesday) with an awareness lecture, health advice by experts, and free BMI tests and consultancy with qualified dieticians. The day spotlights the profession and reminds us that dieticians are the trusted choice for reliable life-changing food and nutrition advice. They use their specialized knowledge and skills to translate the science of nutrition into terms everyone can understand to unlock food’s potential and support healthy living for all. “The brain utilises 20 percent of the entire energy supply from the body for heartbeat, respiration, wakefulness, sleep, and digestion, to name just a few. This energy supply from the food that you eat can either be the safest and most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison.

The brain, like the cardiovascular system, depends on good blood flow for optimal functioning. Heart-healthy lifestyle choices such as regular physical activity and a healthful dietary pattern are, therefore, good ways to keep the brain healthy and the memory sharp. What is good for the heart is good for the head,” Dr. Rezzan stated.

Asked to share the particular nutrients or food components that stand out for their brain-boosting powers, Dr. rezxzan counted Omega-3 fatty acids, in particular, as a promising nutrient. She said the consumption of adequate vitamins and minerals (dietary or supplemental) is associated with lower risk of developing cognitive deficits. The B vitamins and vitamins E, C, and D specifically have been identified as playing important roles in maintaining normal brain function, she informed.

In 2018, studies show promising results for omega-9s fatty acids (also known as monounsaturated fats) for their potential to regulate blood sugar levels and promote a healthy weight. Consuming foods rich in omega-9 fatty acids instead of other types of fat may have a number of beneficial health effects.

Popular foods containing omega-9 include sunflower, hazelnut, safflower, macadamia nuts, soybean oil, olive oil, canola oil, almond butter and avocado oil.“It is best to focus your diet on getting a good balance of omega-3, -6 and -9 fatty acids. This should involve eating at least two portions of oily fish per week and using olive oil for cooking and in salad dressing,” Dr. Rezzan advised.

Emphasizing richly coloured fruits and vegetables and cooking with herbs and spices can boost vitamin and phytochemical (vitamin like substances) intake. “We recommend these dark coloured fruits and vegetables since these are naturally rich in phytochemicals that reduce oxidative stress and protect the brain from inflammation. Herbs and spices make foods flavourful and add beneficial phytochemicals like curcumin (yellow pigment in turmeric) to the diet,” the nutritionist explained.

World Dieticians Day helps raise the profile of dieticians and encourages others to this profession to help shape the future of eating and healthy living for all.

“As in any other field, the trend of nutrition is changing each year. Last year’s trend was all about protein sprouted foods and healthy fats. 2018 is focusing on eating to prevent and manage health conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease and boosting digestive health,” Dr. Rezzan mentioned. Dietician nutritionists are indeed a trusted source for dietary advice to preserve brain health.

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