As we age, changes in our normal standard of health can become more noticeable. Ever walked into a room and forgotten what you came for, woken up groggy for no reason, or noticed unintentional changes in body composition? These can all be frustrating to experience but are more common than you may think.
Countless adults experience things like brain fogginess, a slowed metabolism, and a loss of muscle mass. Let’s take a deeper dive into these common complaints and what you can do to feed your brain and metabolism well.
The term “brain fog” is used broadly to describe a feeling of cloudiness, forgetfulness, or trouble concentrating. This can make it difficult to get things done.
Researchers suggest these feelings are usually related to lack of sleep, poor nutrition, stress, or medications. Furthermore, brain fogginess may be tied to low-grade inflammation.1 While there may not be specific clinical treatments for brain fog, addressing underlying inflammation is the best approach.
You might remember a time in your life when you could seemingly eat whatever you wanted and not gain a single pound. Those days may feel long gone now.
Metabolism does slow with age, but recent research suggests that it peaks earlier and slows later than we’ve thought. There appears to be a gradual decline between ages 20 and 60, with the more significant change happening in the elder years.2
What’s more likely contributing to perceived changes in metabolism during adulthood are our lifestyle habits, particularly exercise, and nutrition. These play a large role in energy expenditure, as well as feeling able to participate in things we enjoy.
REDUCED MUSCLE MASS
Loss of muscle mass starts around age 30.3 Regardless of how old you are, now is an important time to start focusing on ways to preserve existing lean muscle mass and build more.
Maintaining a healthy percentage of muscle mass helps reduce further age-related muscle loss from occurring. Muscle is also responsible for determining your basal metabolic rate, or how many calories you burn each day.
It also helps you burn the excess fat that could otherwise increase the risk of heart disease and other health problems. Furthermore, having muscle increases your strength and ability to engage in physical activities you enjoy.
HOW TO FEED YOUR BRAIN AND BOOST YOUR METABOLISM
Now that we’ve covered some of the most frequent brain and metabolism-related complaints among adults, let’s examine how you can adjust your lifestyle to improve them. Two of the biggest factors in feeding your brain well and supporting a healthy metabolism are exercise and nutrition.
Regular exercise with intentional rest days is ideal for overall wellness. Rotating activities like jogging, walking, swimming, biking, sports, yoga, stretching, and resistance or strength training engages your full body, promote muscle building and maintenance, and offer overall health benefits.
Staying active helps support mobility, energy, healthy metabolism, and body composition. Consider the ways you already enjoy moving your body, things you’re interested in trying, and how you can incorporate more strength training exercises, like using resistance bands, dumbbells, or bodyweight movements.
What you feed your brain and body every day is key to your health. Nutrition determines how much fuel you have and how well your body can perform and protect you from ailments and injuries.
While it’s easy to eat mostly packaged and convenience foods today, these tend to be nutrient-poor, high in calories, fat, sodium and added sugar, but low in vitamins and minerals. As a result, they often encourage unstable blood sugar, brain fog, tiredness, low mood, inflammation, and weight gain, all of which have negative effects on your feelings of wellness.
Instead, focus on minimally processed foods, especially fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, grains, and legumes. These provide fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, unsaturated fats, and protein your body and brain need. These nutrients help support normal blood sugar regulation, a normal inflammatory response, and a healthy brain, mood, and metabolism.
Consider adding more of these foods to feed your brain and metabolism:
- Cruciferous vegetables: Add more broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and kale to your plate. Broccoli contains a compound called sulforaphane, which has been widely studied for its brain-protective and health-promoting characteristics.4
- Leafy greens: This includes foods like lettuce, spinach, arugula, chard, and fresh herbs. One study among 60-90-year-olds found that those who ate at least one serving of leafy greens per day experienced brain function equivalent to being 11 years younger.5
- Colorful berries: An array of blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries provide antioxidants that help support cellular health by protecting the body from oxidative stress-related damage.6
- Nuts and seeds: Almonds, pistachios, cashews, walnuts, chia, flax, and hemp seeds, for example, contain unsaturated fatty acids and vitamin E, which acts as a protective antioxidant.7
- Fatty fish or algae oil: These provide the omega-3 fats EPA and DHA, which help support brain health and function.8
- Whole grains: Contrary to their ultra-refined counterparts, whole grains maintain all the original parts of the grain, including fiber, vitamins, and minerals. These help promote satiety and stable blood sugar, benefiting mood and energy levels.9
- Legumes: Soy foods, like tofu and tempeh, as well as beans, peas, and lentils, are rich in B vitamins and flavonols, which help support brain health. One study found that diets low in legumes were associated with more cognitive decline among the elderly.10
CONSIDER A DIAGNOSTIC TOOL
In addition to improving your nutrition and exercise habits, consider a diagnostic test to gain further insight into your health. Below are two of the tests offered by Mosaic Diagnostics and what data they can provide.
AMINO ACID TEST
This is a urine test that offers information about metabolic, nutritional, and neurological disorders. It analyzes 40 amino acids, identifies abnormalities, and provides potential causes, consequences, and nutrition-related information. This test may be insightful for those experiencing things like mood changes, tiredness, and feelings of fogginess.
OAT (ORGANIC ACID TEST)
Organic acids are chemical compounds that are products of metabolism and are excreted in the urine. The Organic Acids Test (OAT) utilizes 76 markers to offer a comprehensive metabolic snapshot of overall health. This includes evaluating the balance of intestinal microorganisms that can contribute to numerous health concerns. The OAT also includes markets for oxidative stress, neurotransmitter levels, oxalates, vitamins, and minerals that may be correlated with certain conditions.
TAKING BRAIN AND METABOLIC HEALTH INTO YOUR HANDS
We will all experience changes in our everyday wellness, but that doesn’t mean we always have to accept it as a new normal. While not everything is preventable, improving your nutrition and exercise routine can make a significant difference in your brain and metabolic health. Consider a Mosaic Diagnostics laboratory test to gain further insight, and always speak to your healthcare provider if you have health concerns.
- Kverno K. Brain Fog: A Bit of Clarity Regarding Etiology, Prognosis, and Treatment. J Psychosoc Nurs Ment Health Serv. 2021;59(11):9-13. doi:10.3928/02793695-20211013-01
- Pontzer H, Yamada Y, Sagayama H, et al. Daily energy expenditure through the human life course. Science. 2021;373(6556):808-812. doi:10.1126/science.abe5017
- Keller K, Engelhardt M. Strength and muscle mass loss with aging process. Age and strength loss. Muscles Ligaments Tendons J. 2014;3(4):346-350. Published 2014 Feb 24.
- Kim J. Pre-Clinical Neuroprotective Evidences and Plausible Mechanisms of Sulforaphane in Alzheimer’s Disease. Int J Mol Sci. 2021;22(6):2929. Published 2021 Mar 13. doi:10.3390/ijms22062929
- Morris MC, Wang Y, Barnes LL, Bennett DA, Dawson-Hughes B, Booth SL. Nutrients and bioactives in green leafy vegetables and cognitive decline: Prospective study. Neurology. 2018;90(3):e214-e222. doi:10.1212/WNL.0000000000004815
- Kalt W, Cassidy A, Howard LR, et al. Recent Research on the Health Benefits of Blueberries and Their Anthocyanins. Adv Nutr. 2020;11(2):224-236. doi:10.1093/advances/nmz065
- La Fata G, Weber P, Mohajeri MH. Effects of vitamin E on cognitive performance during ageing and in Alzheimer’s disease. Nutrients. 2014;6(12):5453-5472. Published 2014 Nov 28. doi:10.3390/nu6125453
- von Schacky C. Importance of EPA and DHA Blood Levels in Brain Structure and Function. Nutrients. 2021;13(4):1074. Published 2021 Mar 25. doi:10.3390/nu13041074
- Hu Y, Ding M, Sampson L, et al. Intake of whole grain foods and risk of type 2 diabetes: results from three prospective cohort studies. BMJ. 2020;370:m2206. Published 2020 Jul 8. doi:10.1136/bmj.m2206
- Chen X, Huang Y, Cheng HG. Lower intake of vegetables and legumes associated with cognitive decline among illiterate elderly Chinese: a 3-year cohort study. J Nutr Health Aging. 2012;16(6):549-552. doi:10.1007/s12603-012-0023-2