An Orange a Day…

I’m not really surprised to read that orange juice may hold the secret to a healthy brainApparently it could improve brain function in elderly people, new research has suggested.

A small study in which thirty-seven adults, with an average age of sixty-seven, consumed 500 ml of orange juice daily for eight weeks, found they had an eight per cent overall improvement in cognitive function compared with a group who consumed a controlled drink.

At the beginning and end of the eight weeks their memory reaction time and verbal fluency were measured by carrying out eight tests. One of the tests required learning a list of words to be recalled immediately, and again, after a thirty-minute delay. Remembering one more word from a shopping list of fifteen items equated to an eight per cent improvement. This could translate into substantial improvements over a life-span.

While the researchers are not recommending that people drink 500 ml of orange juice every day, due to its high sugar content, they say their findings show that the juice’s constituents could play an important role in providing brain-boosting nutrients as part of a healthy, balanced diet.

Co-author Dr Daniel Lamport of the University of Reading’s School of Psychology and Clinical Languages Sciences said orange juice was a major source of a group of naturally occurring plant photo-chemicals known as flavonoids, which studies have shown improve both learning and memory.

‘Small, easily administered changes to the daily diet, such as eating more flavonoid-rich fruit and vegetables have the potential to substantially benefit brain health,’ he said. ‘We know that people find it difficult to sustain big changes to their diets, but simple alterations are made easier to maintain permanently. More research on the positive effects of flavonoids on cognition is still needed. However, this is an important discovery which strengthens the growing body of evidence that flavonoid-rich foodstuffs could play a big role in tackling cognition decline in old age.’

As far as I’m concerned, having reached the ripe age of eighty-four, although my memory for names over the years has gradually given me a most unwelcome embarrassment, I’m still fully alert and my cognition is as well as it could be.

I attribute this to a well-disciplined diet: having an orange every morning as part of a breakfast which mainly consists of a good helping of cottage cheese with a generous dollop of extra virgin olive oil, two pieces of wholemeal bread and a cup of filtered coffee known as the Vienna Mix.

My lunch is mostly fish but on occasion I have a steak tartare and a few chips that help keep my energy at the gruelling level which I feel my work demands.

In the evening, I content myself with a very light meal served at 6.30, and retire to bed not later than 9.

My mornings start at 5 am when I reckon my faculties are at their best and more in tune with my way of life.

So there we are. Longevity can be achieved by having a structured and delicate balance in all that we do, especially in our consumption of food. We must also remember that moderation in all things is the passport to a fulfilled and happy tenure on this earth.

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