With all the information coming out about how to exercise your brain, it’s good to remember that you must also feed your brain wisely so that it can rebuild and replenish itself constantly. Our brains take up a large amount of our bodies resources and it is critical that it always have plenty of rebuilding materials available or cognitive function can be impaired.
It’s almost always better to get nutrition through the foods you eat, since many micronutrients yet undiscovered come to us through our food. With that in mind, here are five foods to add to your diet on a regular basis to keep your brain healthy, smart and strong.
Get nutrition through the foods you eat, many micronutrients yet undiscovered come to us through our food Nuts and seeds - especially walnuts, almonds, cashews, sunflower and sesame seeds - are good sources of vitamin E, which has been shown in studies to slow down cognitive decline, and are very nutrient-dense foods. They are also high in fiber. Walnuts when consumed regularly, showed a positive effect on heart disease and strokes in a long term study. Walnuts also contain high amounts of protein, B-vitamins, calcium, iron and zinc. The down side is that they are also calorie dense. A small handful can be over 200 calories. You may wish to sprinkle them liberally on cereal or salads or throw a tablespoon in a smoothie on a daily basis.
Avocados are extremely high in fat and, because of this, for many years were off of dieters and heart patients meal plans. Recent research, however, has found that almost all the fat in avocados is monosaturated, the good fat that can actually lower cholesterol levels. Monosaturated fats have also been shown to improve blood flow and lower blood pressure, which helps the brain receive more blood and decreases the probability of strokes. Avocados, like nuts, are also high in calories. The recommended serving size for an avocado is about 1/6 of an avocado which equals about 2 tablespoons. Try a little on your morning toast instead of butter for a delicious daily dose of monosaturated fat.
When it comes to brain-feeding superstars, blueberries come out on top. Blueberry extract equivalent to 1/2 cup of blueberries has shown marked improvements in cognition, memory, learning and faster recuperation time from lost motor function in studies involving rats. Human studies have shown improvement from dementia when the patients consumed blueberries. Also, those drinking a blueberry smoothie in the morning show improved response on mental tasks in the afternoon better than those given a different breakfast drink. Blueberries are also rich in flavonoids - a known cancer-fighting antioxidant.
Complex carbohydrates which are found in whole grain foods such as whole grain breads, oatmeal and brown rice provide a steady supply of glucose energy to the brain and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Complex carbs and the fiber that usually accompanies them improve blood flow, helps to lower weight and keep your mood and insulin on an even level. Minimizing the amount of simple carbohydrates, such as sugars, processed grains, etc., is critical to maintaining good brain function. This is because these carbohydrates cause a spike in glucose to the brain which is then followed by a low that negatively affects mood, brain function and insulin response.
Finally, another brain food superstar is deep water fish, especially wild caught salmon. It’s first benefit is high levels of omega 3 fatty acids, which in and of itself is critical to brain function. The second way that omega 3 helps the brain is through its anti-inflammatory properties. Systemic inflammation is a marker for both dementia caused by strokes and Alzheimer’s disease and the proper ratio of omega 3 seems to be a primary way to naturally control the inflammation response. Additionally, fish is delicious and easy to prepare several times a week.
Bringing these five foods into your daily and weekly menu planning is a smart way to give your brain and body a rich dosage of nutrition in some very delicious packages. Besides feeding your brain, these foods are beneficial to almost every system in your body. Get out to your grocery store and farmer’s market and pick all of these foods today.