Our brains take up only 2% of our body weight yet consume nearly 20% of our body’s energy. That’s why what we feed our brains is so important. Also, brain cells prefer a constant, steady supply of glucose. Eating “brain food” improves everyone’s moods, elevates learning and concentration, and sharpens memory and attention. The brain is an extremely metabolically active organ, making it a very hungry one, and a picky eater at that. The right food, or the natural neurochemicals that they contain, can enhance mental capabilities — keep you motivated, magnify memory, speed reaction times, defuse stress, perhaps even prevent brain aging.
According to our naturopathic chef, Rose Chamberlain here are the best 10 brain foods and their benefits:
1. Oily fish
Oily fish is rich in omega-3 fats, Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) that cannot be made by the body and must be obtained through diet.
Once consumed, Omega 3 is metabolized by the body to create DHA – decosahexaenoic acid. About 40% of the fatty acids in brain cell membranes are DHA. Low DHA levels have been linked to a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and memory loss. Good sources of omega 3 include oily fish- (salmon, trout, mackerel, herring, sardines, pilchards and kippers), linseed (flaxseed) oil, pumpkin seeds, walnut oil. Omega-3 fatty acid is a powerful and versatile nutrient that is essential for a healthy brain, heart, joints and general wellbeing.
Eggs contain Choline; a new substance recently discovered, this incredible substance is often grouped with B vitamins. Choline is used to build cell membranes and has a role in producing signalling molecules in the brain, along with various other functions. Choline is the precursor molecule for the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which is involved in many functions including memory and muscle control.
Choline is used by the body for so many different functions and its deficiency is now thought to have an impact on diseases such as liver disease, atherosclerosis and possibly neurological disorders.
Choline can be found in a wide variety of foods but Egg yolks are the most concentrated source.
3. Blueberries & blackberries
Blueberries and blackberries have the highest antioxidant capacities among all fruits, vegetables, spices and seasonings. Antioxidants are essential to optimizing health by helping to combat the free radicals that can damage cellular structures as well as DNA through oxidative stress. Oxidative stress has been connected with increased risk of certain cancers and brain degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. Several researchers suggest that the consumption of blueberries may be effective in improving or delaying short term memory loss.
4. Wholegrain foods
Diets containing wholegrain foods have been shown to lower the risk of developing chronic diseases such as heart diseases, diabetes and certain cancers. Whole-grains normally are used for their fibre content and capacity to reduce cholesterol. But it has other important nutrients such as vitamin E, selenium and phytic acid an antioxidant which effects may help prevent damage to blood vessels. These play a role in lowering the risk of developing heart disease and improve circulation. Good blood circulation will promote good blood flow to all organs including the brain. Another important aspect of wholegrain foods is their low-GI capacity which release glucose slowly into the bloodstream, keeping you mentally alert throughout the day.
A recent study has suggested that the natural antioxidant lycopene present in tomatoes, has potential for neuro-protection and is a promising candidate for prevention and treatment of dementia, particularly Alzheimer’s.
6. Dark vegetables
Dark vegetables are a great source of magnesium and vitamin K, which are known to enhance cognitive function and improve brainpower.
They are also filled with antioxidants like vitamin C and plant compounds called carotenoids, which are particularly powerful brain protectors. A Harvard Medical School study with more than 13,000 women found that those who ate cruciferous vegetable up to three times a week, lowered their brain age by 1 to 2 years.
7. Pumpkin seeds
Zinc is a powerful antioxidant but is also essential for synthesis of coenzymes that mediate biogenic-amine synthesis and metabolism of our immune system and neurotransmitters. Acute Zinc deficiency impairs brain function of experimental animals and humans. The good news is that just a handful of pumpkin seeds a day is equivalent to your recommended daily amount of zinc, vital for enhancing memory.
8. Nuts and seeds
Recent research has indicated that increased vulnerability to oxidative stress may be the major factor involved in Central Nerve System functional declines in aging and age-related neurodegenerative diseases, and that antioxidants, including vitamin E, might help to prevent cognitive decline, particularly in the elderly.
Nuts and seeds are good sources of vitamin E. Add a handful a day of mixed nuts or seeds like walnuts, hazelnuts, brazil nuts, filberts, almonds, cashews, peanuts, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, flax seed or unhydrogenated nut butters such as almond butter, cashew butter and tahini. Avoid salted roasted and salted nuts.
70 percent of our body is composed of water and our systems need water for almost every single function. Dehydration can cause loss of focus, memory, brain fatigue and brain fog, as well as headaches, sleep issues, anger, depression, and many more. We can survive up to three weeks without food but would die in 3 days without water.
About three-quarters of your brain is water. A small study from Ohio University found that people well hydrated scored significantly better on tests of brainpower, compared with those who weren’t drinking enough.
Curcumin, is a powerful anti-inflammatory from the turmeric root. Turmeric has been used for thousands of years as a medicinal preparation and a preservative and coloring agent in foods. Curcumin polyphenols share in common anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties with associated health benefits as resveratrol extracted from grapes in wine, catechins from green tea and certain fruit juices (blueberries, strawberries, pomegranates etc.) Animal studies have shown that curcumin, actually clears away Alzheimer’s-causing proteins in the brain called amyloid plaques.
At New You Boot Camp we try to teach you what these nutritional benefits from food are. However, for those who follow us on line we thought this blog would be useful information for you all.
We have got plenty of easy recipes on the website which will give you ideas on how to keep your healthy mental function and help with your weight loss.
Have fun and enjoy!
Check out the recipes here: http://www.newyoubootcamp.com/recipes.php