Memory Maximizers: Alzheimer’s Disease Risk; Tomatoes & Memory-Boosting Lycopene

Here's the latest research to help you keep your brain sharp.

More Sleep May Help Reduce Alzheimer’s Disease Risk

Older adults who experience excessive daytime sleepiness are three times more likely than their peers who don’t report being sleepy during the day to have brain deposits of beta amyloid, a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease (AD), according to a recent study published in the journal Sleep. Researchers believe that their findings underscore previous studies that support the idea that poor sleep may encourage the development of AD. The researchers also suggest that improving sleep quality may also help prevent AD. In recent years, AD risk factor management has focused on things like diet, exercise, and cognitive activities. But the researchers involved in this study say it’s time to focus on the sleep habits of older adults. Physicians should ask about insomnia, sleep schedules, naps, and daytime sleepiness. If your doctor doesn’t ask about your sleep habits, and you feel you may not be getting enough sleep quality or quantity, tell your doctor. There may be simple solutions to your sleep issues, or you may benefit from seeing a sleep specialist. It’s still not clear why poor sleep may contribute to beta amyloid buildup, or whether beta amyloid may actually trigger daytime sleepiness. Regardless of what connection is ultimately explained, maintaining good sleep habits is an important part of your overall physical and mental health.

Tomatoes Top List of Foods with Memory-boosting Lycopene

Whether they are fresh, sun-dried or part of a delicious marinara sauce, tomatoes deserve a prominent place in your diet. That’s because they contain the powerful antioxidant lycopene, which is associated with brain health, including concentration and memory skills. Interestingly, while some foods lose a little nutrient value from cooking, tomatoes can actually provide more lycopene if they are cooked in the presence of healthy fats, such as olive oil. The cooking process increases the bioavailability of lycopene, meaning higher levels of the antioxidant can be consumed and used by you. While tomatoes and other lycopene sources alone can’t prevent neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease, they may help lower your risk and help you maintain brainpower. Antioxidants are substances that help suppress the formation of free radicals, which are molecules that can damage healthy cells in the brain and elsewhere in the body. If you’re not a big fan of tomatoes, you can find lycopene in many other foods. Fruits, such as guava, grapefruit, watermelon, and papaya, along with sweet red peppers, and asparagus are all good sources.

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