Sunday, May 17, 2015

How to feed your brain?

Wouldn’t it be nice if there was “brain food”?   Just eat a few foods and be smarter, more alert, improve your memory?  Well, apparently there are foods you can eat to improve your memory and learning.  A recent article in Environmental Nutrition, 5 Steps for Feeding Your Brain, lists a number of foods and steps to feed your brain.    
      1.   Foods rich in Phytonutrients – these aren’t vitamins or minerals but plant nutrients that have health benefits to plants and to us.  There are many phytonutrients, the one called flavonoids, are good for brain health.  These promote memory and learning.  Whole plant foods are better than processed so choose:
        a.       Citrus fruits – whole orange vs. orange juice, grapefruit, slices of lemon in ice water     
        b.      Broccoli – microwave it, steam it or eat it raw with lite Ranch dressing  
        c.       Soybeans   

      2.  Unrefined Carbs – have you ever heard people say, “Watch your carbs”?  Not sure what they are watching them for.  Yes, you should limit refined carbs, but unrefined carbs are great for your health and for your brain.  Refined carbs, like refined sugars, promote stress in the body so avoid foods with added sugars and refined white bread and white flour.  Choose instead whole grains, oatmeal, Cheerios, whole grain breads, whole grain crackers, Sun Chips.  Beans and legumes also promote brain health.  Unrefined carbs don’t spike your blood sugar levels but promote steady blood sugar which supports attention and memory.   
      3.   Omega-3’s – a good fat.   So much has been written about bad fats like saturated fats.  But there are good fats like Omega-3’s.  Good for you heart and good for your brain.  Seafood, salmon and tuna, supply 2 types of Omega-3’s, DHA and EPA – both brain food.  Another omega-3 is found in walntus and flaxseed.  Sprinkling some flaxseed on your cereal or in your smoothie is a good choice.  Avoiding saturated fats in not only good for your heart but also protects your brain.  Diets high in saturated fats are associated with mental decline.  
     4.  Fried foods are bad foods – many people are surprised by this. Many think fried chicken nuggets are healthy because they are made of chicken.  Not true.  Fried foods contain a substance called AGE that is linked to memory decline as we get older.  So cut back on fried foods.         
      5.   Healthy Weight – maintaining a normal weight is good for your heart, your brain and overall health.  Studies have linked obesity to less brain function as we get older.  Physical activity is linked with improved brain function so go for that swim, a walk or bike ride.
Brain Foods – to feed your brain enjoy some brain foods:
Apples, eggs, figs, green tea, pomegranate, salmon and tuna, strawberries and blueberries, walnuts

Source:  5 Steps for Feeding Your Brain , Image source: Brain food

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