Thursday, October 31, 2013

Food for Thought: Brain Boosters are November's Focus

Eating well is as good for your mental health as it is for your physical health. The brain requires nutrients just like your heart, lungs, or muscles do.

Brain boosting foods contain nutrients that help support optimal brain activity and provide protection for the brain from free radicals. It is important to note that while specific nutrients are necessary for optimal brain function, no food can claim to increase concentration or build memory. Keeping the brain healthy and optimally functioning is the goal to enhance learning and provide an environment conducive to concentration and focus.

Here are some tips:

Feed your brain to think clearly - Brains use a lot of energy and if we don’t fuel it, or give it the wrong type of fuel, we tend to think a little slower and recall less information. A healthy diet supports our brain and keeps it healthy just as well as the rest of our bodies.

Stay hydrated - Our brains are mostly water, and even a little dehydration can make our thoughts cloudy. Water is the best antidote to combat dehydration. While all fluids count, drinking lots of beverages with sugar and caffeine can actually cause dehydration. Sip on water (plain or flavored) for most of the day and use the caffeinated and sugary beverages sparingly.

Get your essential fatty acid fix – Omega-3s found in salmon and walnuts are good for your heart, but those same fats are great for your brain too. They provide protection for the sensitive and critical nerve endings that help us connect thoughts.

Opt for whole grains - Whole grains are not only good to keep us energized all day because of their steady source of fuel, but they keep our brains jazzed all day too because our brains need that steady source of energy. Whole grains keep your energy up both in your muscles and in your brain--so skip the chips and load up on some oatmeal for powerful study sessions.

Remember breakfast and you’ll remember everything else - Breakfast is critical! After a long night of fasting, your brain needs a jump start as much as your body. Even if you aren’t hungry, get everything moving in the right direction with a small powerful breakfast. As little as one egg and a slice of whole wheat toast can get everything cranking. And never go into an exam on an empty stomach! Your brain will be starving even if your body isn’t!

The Following are Foods that have Brain Boosting Effects:

Grains: all whole grains: whole wheat bread, quinoa, oatmeal, whole grain pasta

Fruits: darkly colored fruits: like blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, cherries, cranberries, raspberries, plums, avocados, oranges, grapes, kiwi

Vegetables: richly colored vegetables: like dark leafy greens, spinach, romaine, arugula, kale, sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts, beets, red peppers

Proteins:  tuna, salmon, sardines, trout, herring, mackerel, lentils, eggs, lean beef, low fat yogurt, cheese, milk, lean chicken, pork

Other: walnuts, sunflower seeds, flax, canola oil, olive oil, green tea, water

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