With the new year already in high swing, I decided to direct this post to focus and what we can do, to acquire an attitude to carry out the goals we set. Apart from the need for the material things, support of friends and family, or even the physical urge to accomplish; believe it or not, the foods we consume have a lot to do with how our bodies approach each task we mentally attempt. And, with this year being 2013, I have tried my best to come up with thirteen such foods:
1. Oily Fish
EPA and DHA are the fatty acids which are responsible for the effects on the brain. They can be found in fish such as salmon, tuna, mackerel, sardines and herring.
“Omega-3 fatty acids are highly concentrated in the brain and appear to be important for cognitive (brain memory and performance) and behavioral function. In fact, infants who do not get enough omega-3 fatty acids from their mothers during pregnancy are at risk for developing vision and nerve problems.” (Source: http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/omega-3-000316.htm#ixzz2GaIo8nwj)
It is recommended that we consume a serving of these type of fish to achieve the daily recommended amount ate least 3 times a week. Due to the expense of fish and our current busy schedules this can be easily achieved through taking our well known cod liver oil, fish oil, omega-3which are fortunately now available over the counter at your nearest pharmacy.
Not everyone consumes the flesh of animals, whether it be dietary practices, or otherwise. Flaxseeds are the alternative source of omega-3’s. They are seeds, obviously from a plant source. An added benefit of this source, is its flexibility; it may be grounded and added to meals or shakes so its easier to get that recommended daily source of omega-3. Apart from this unique feature, it is a n excellent source of fiber, needed to allow our body to cleanse itself, allowing it to perform optimally. These can be purchased in you local health food establishment.
Lycopene is the antioxidant found in this versatile fruit that gives it the wonders of being an excellent source of goodness for your brain. Lycopene is a caratenoid which gives the yellow, orange, and red fat-soluble color to plants. It makes tomatoes red and is also found in watermelon, guava, and pink grapefruit.
Being an antioxidant, it helps prevent many degenerative diseases by neutralizing free radicals that would otherwise cause cellular damage. This means it helps protect you from dementia, cardiovascular disease, premature aging, cancer and cataracts. Lycopene defends the brain against the kind of damage that causes cognitive impairment, and it may even protect against memory decline.
It also has potent anti-inflammatory effects that are great for your brain. Lycopene is protective against prostate cancer and studies suggest it also protects cells in the stomach, lung, colon and skin. (Source: http://drewramseymd.com/index.php/resources/detail/lycopene)
Choline is the component which contributes to brain health. “Choline is a key component of acetylcholine. A neurotrasmitter that carries messages from and to nerves, acetylcholine is the body’s primary chemical means of sending messages between nerves and muscles.” (Source: “http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=92”)
One egg carries approximately 70 calories and the choline helps to increase the size of the brain’s neurons which transmit the electrical responses faster and stronger.
Cashews, almonds, pecans, walnuts, peanuts:
Walnuts contain protein, omega 6, omega 3 vitamin E and vitamin B6, making them an excellent source of nourishment for your nervous system. Walnuts may also help correct the human brain’s seratonin levels. Seratonin is an important brain chemical that controls both our moods and appetite. Walnuts may be able to relieve disorders like insomnia, depression, overeating and other compulsive behavior.
Cashews are high in magnesium, known to open up the blood vessels in your body. More oxygen-rich blood = better brain function.
Almonds contain phenylanaline which stimulates the brain to generate natural mood-boosting neurotransmitters called dopamine, adrenaline and noradrenaline. Additionally, almonds are high in riboflavin which is known to boost memory.
6. Whole Grains
Whole grain is a great brain stimulator because it contains high percentage of folate. A diet rich in whole grain breads, cereals, barley, popcorn, can boost blood flow to the brain. Every organ in the body is dependent on blood flow… especially the brain. Wholegrain breads and cereals are rich in Vitamin B6, an important brain vitamin. Wheat germ additionally contains memory-improving thiamine.
Avocados, like nuts, are a good source of Vitamin E. A good source of mon-unsaturated fatty acids, assists in maintaining good cholesterol, preventing plaque build up in vessels leading to the heart and brain. Similar to whole grains, they also enhance blood flow which is the key component of a healthy brain.
Callaloo; our Caribbean version of spinach, slows down the effects of age-related declines in brain function and helps protect the brain from oxidative stress. Researchers suggest that a diet rich in spinach can significantly improve learning capacity and motor skills.
“Broccoli is exceptionally good for your brain. The top nutrient that stands out in this regard is Vitamin K. This vital amine is implicated in calcium regulation in the body. In particular, it appears to help with heart health (the heart needs calcium in a particular amount, and too much calcium is bad for the heart arteries) and in the prevention of osteoporosis. It’s been suggested that Vitamin K prevents calcification (hardening of the arteries) in the brain.” (Source: “http://www.chileunderground.com/2011/01/15/brain-food-broccoli-the-veggie-that-presidents-love-to-hate/:)
10. Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin Seeds, the rich source of zinc we discard each time we prepare our wonderful orange ground provision. The seeds of the pumpkin are a power food, rich in many nutrients including: Zinc, Vitamin A and E, and the precious Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids. The Zinc found in pumpkin seeds plays a vital role in enhancing memory and thinking skills.
Researchers now identify the crucial role that this super-nutrient, zinc, plays in support of memory formation and cognitive stability.
For the first time, scientists have been able to watch zinc in action as the nutrient regulates communications between neurons and the hippocampus to improve memory and learning capabilities. Ensuring proper intake of zinc is an important step toward optimal brain function and may prevent cognitive decline as we age.
This pure, tasteless, colourless beverage seems to be the cheapest and most perfect solution to all our health problems doesn’t it? Water is the most dominant component of our body, making up the blood. As learnt previously, anything contributing to the enhancement of blood flow is an excellent item for the brain’s optimal performance. Keeping our bodies hydrated is the best way to do so. So turn on your tap today. Consuming at least 6-8 (8 oz.) glasses of water will reap wonderful results for your body. Start now.
So I’ll admit, I left the fun stuff for last. Please remember to consume the last two in moderation.
Coffee contains caffeine, which, assists in keeping an individual alert. “Regular coffee drinking has been shown to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s, Dementia, and other mental disorders. That’s because caffeine is good for the brain (in moderation), and it contains antioxidants. The important thing to note is you shouldn’t add in all the other junk to your coffee (drinks crammed with sweeteners and fatty products).”
“Caffeine, the mild stimulant found in coffee, improves mental acuity. Aside from caffeine’s brain boosting effects, coffee’s antioxidant richness helps maintain brain health. And some research suggests that drinking coffee can actually stave off depression in women.”
For all the super health freaks, you may replace your morning cup of coffee with GREEN TEA:
“Green tea is a wonderful beverage, and when freshly brewed, it enhances memory and focus and fights mental fatigue. Green tea contains catechines, which help you relax mentally, yet also keeps your wits sharpened.
Green Tea also helps maintain positive mood states and fights against many brain disorders. Polyphenols are powerful antioxidants found in green tea that can boost the availability of the important signaling brain substance dopamine in brain circuits. Dopamine is vital in creating positive mood states.
Polyphenols also help the brain and body run smoothly by maintaining a steady supply of our body’s primary fuel: glucose. These powerful polyphenols also help prevent cancer and heart attacks.”
What better to end with? It’s hard to believe that anything as incredibly delicious as chocolate can actually be incredibly good for you as well. Dark chocolate has powerful antioxidant properties and contains several natural stimulants which increase the production of endorphins while enhancing focus and concentration. The stimulants found in dark chocolate also improve mood. It has high content of flavanols that facilitate blood supply to the brain and enhance cognitive skills.
Milk chocolate jump starts impulse control and reaction time. It has also been known to improve visual and verbal memory.
More isn’t necessarily better when it comes to chocolate. This is, unfortunately, one superfood that you have to indulge in in moderation.
So my friends, kick start your year with these thirteen super foods that will assist you in keeping focused as you fight to win the battle of achieving this year’s goals. These foods are all readily available and relatively affordable in our bountiful country.
So feed your brain today and include at least three of these foods daily. The easiest one is water. Have fun and i’m looking forward to your comments.