The 1 Word to Help You Strengthen Your Brain — & Protect It From COVID-19

We know by now some of the ways COVID-19 affects the brain — causing things like fogginess, fatigue, loss of smell and taste, and even strokes.

The 1 Word to Help You Strengthen Your Brain — & Protect It From COVID-19

We know by now some of the ways COVID-19 affects the brain — causing things like fogginess, fatigue, loss of smell and taste, and even strokes. So it's more important than ever to keep your brain healthy and strong. Here are some ways to do that through your diet and by remembering one simple word, thanks to Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

S.H.A.R.P.

Slash the sugars: "We eat way too much sugar," Gupta told Dr. Oz. "Humans used to get sugar just a couple of times a year when fruit fell from the trees ... and now we eat about 130 pounds, on average. The point is that when you have a lot of this glucose that's circulating in your blood, you've got to use it. If you don't use it, it can start to become destructive. One of the places in the body that is most sensitive to [this glucose] is the brain. That means the brain shuts down, stops absorbing energy. So you could be eating a ton of food and the brain could still be starving at the same time. You've got to think about this in terms of either lowering your sugar consumption, which everyone should do, and make sure you're actually using it."


Hydrate: "The brain is a highly vascular organ. It's just 2-3% of the overall body weight, but it takes 20% of the blood flow, which means that even small amounts of dehydration can be a real problem. 2% dehydration can lead to difficulties with cognition. Right now, good news is you drink and it improves. So that's good."

Add Omega-3s: "These Omega-3s can cross the blood-brain barrier, unlike many other substances, and start to build the scaffolding within the brain. It's really remarkable what it can do. We've talked about it in the context of people who are recovering from injury, but now we know in healthy brains ... it can be quite beneficial."

A good source of Omega-3s? Fish! Look for ones that are low in mercury and high in Omega-3s. That includes salmon, sardines, trout and canned tuna, according to the Harvard Medical School.

Reduce meal and snack portions: "If you live in a resource-intensive country like the United States, where we have plenty of food around all the time, when you feel that pain in the brain that says I need something, people tend to eat instead of drink, and sometimes it can be difficult for the brain to distinguish, [between] 'I'm thirsty' and 'I'm hungry.' If there's food around, you will eat. So as a country, we walk around chronically overstuffed and chronically dehydrated. So just remember to drink instead of eat as much as you can."

Plan ahead for meals: "This is the most important thing we do. We're nourishing our bodies, we're nourishing our brains, and so many of us give it so little thought. Just give it a little bit of thought, that extra bit of thought, and you're going to plan a much better and healthier meal."

Gupta is the author of "Keep Sharp: Build a Better Brain at Any Age."

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