UncategorizedJuly 1, 20240

Feed Your Brain: Eating to Support Healthy Brain Wellness, Development, and Productivity

We have all heard the phrase, “You are what you eat”. While you may not transform into the things you eat, your food choices certainly play an important role in your overall health. Not only that, but certain foods can even help to maintain or improve the health of your brain! Eating the right foods to keep your brain healthy can dramatically decrease your risk of developing neurological problems later in life.  

 

Below are some foods that are pretty standard in today’s pantries. These are ingredients that FEED YOUR BRAIN and tast good! 😉 

1. Leafy Greens:Leafy greens such as broccoli, collards, spinach, and kale contain various nutrients such as vitamin K, lutein, folate, and beta carotene. Vitamin K helps with the formation of fat inside brain cells and has been seen to improve memory.  

2. Nuts: Nuts contain healthy fats, antioxidants, and vitamin E, which are beneficial for both the brain and heart. Vitamin E protects cells against free-radical damage to help slow mental decline. Walnuts also contain omega-3 fatty acids to further improve brain function. Nuts have been linked to improved cognition, a sharper memory, and slower mental decline. 

3. Eggs: They are one of the richest sources of choline, a nutrient that may improve memory. Research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows that college students who received 3 or 4 grams of choline 1 hour before taking memory tests scored higher than those who didn’t take choline. Also, being deficient in two types of B vitamins – folate and B12 – has been linked to depression. Vitamin B12 is also involved in synthesizing brain chemicals and regulating sugar levels in the  brain. 

4. Avocados: Jam-packed with monounsaturated fats, fiber, and lutein that can better cognitive health, says a 2017 study. According to the study authors, participants who ate one fresh avocado every day saw a significant improvement in their memory and problem-solving skills. And who’s going to say no to an avocado a day? 

5. Tomatoes: Maybe you like them fresh, or maybe you like them in ketchup form—but either way, the lutein in tomatoes has been found to help keep the brain strong as you age. 

 6.Chicken: Chicken is also rich in B vitamins like niacin and vitamins B6 and B12, which play central roles in energy production, DNA synthesis and brain health. It also has protein, which is essential for building and repairing your tissues and maintaining muscle mass. 

 

If you drink coffee or green tea, you can expect the following healing properties in your brain. 

    1. Coffee: If coffee is the highlight of your morning, you’ll be glad to hear that it’s good for you. Two main components in coffee — caffeine and antioxidants — can help support brain health. The caffeine found in coffee has several positive effects on the brain, including 
        • Increased alertness. Caffeine keeps your brain alert by blocking adenosine, a chemical messenger that makes you feel sleepy. 
        • Improved mood. Caffeine may also boost some of your “feel-good” neurotransmitters, such as dopamine. 
        • Sharpened concentration. One study found that caffeine consumption led to short-term improvements in attention and alertness in participants completing a cognition test. 

 

I am in a relationship with coffee. So, learning that drinking coffee over the long term is also linked to a reduced risk of neurological diseases, such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s made me happy. The largest risk reduction was seen in those adults who consume 3-4 cups daily. This could at least be partly due to coffee’s high concentration of antioxidants. Yes, I will take one more cup!  

2. Green Tea: As is the case with coffee, the caffeine in green tea boosts brain function. In fact, it has been found to improve alertness, performance, memory, and focus. But green tea also has other components that make it a brain-healthy beverage. One of them is L-theanine, an amino acid that can cross the blood-brain barrier and increase the activity of the neurotransmitter GABA, which helps reduce anxiety and makes you feel more relaxed. L-theanine also increases the frequency of alpha waves in the brain, which helps you relax without making you feel tired. One review found that the L-theanine in green tea can help you relax by counteracting the stimulating effects of caffeine. Perfect! It’s also rich in polyphenols and antioxidants that could protect the brain from mental decline and reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Plus, some studies have shown green tea helps improve memory.  

 

The connection between diet and emotions stems from the relationship between your brain and your gut, or “second brain. “  

Here’s how it works: Your GI tract is home to billions of bacteria that influence the production of neurotransmitters, chemical substances that constantly carry messages from the gut to the brain. (Dopamine and serotonin are two common examples.) 

Eating healthy food promotes the growth of “good” bacteria, which in turn positively affects neurotransmitter production. A steady diet of junk food, on the other hand, can cause inflammation that hampers production. When neurotransmitter production is in good shape, your brain receives these positive messages loud and clear, and your emotions reflect it. But when production goes awry, so might your mood. 

Sugar is considered a major culprit of inflammation, plus it feeds “bad” bacteria in the GI tract. Ironically, it can also cause a temporary spike in “feel good” neurotransmitters, like dopamine. That isn’t good for you either, says Rachel Brown, co-founder of The Wellness Project, a consultancy that works with corporations to promote good health among employees. The result is a fleeting sugar rush that is followed shortly thereafter by a crash “that’s terrible for your mood,” she says. 

When you stick to a diet of healthy food, you’re setting yourself up for fewer mood fluctuations, an overall happier outlook, and an improved ability to focus, Dr. Cora says. Studies have even found that healthy diets can help with symptoms of depression and anxiety. Unhealthy diets have been linked to an increased risk of dementia or stroke. 

Let’s feed those brains to promote a healthy, happy, and manageable life at home and at work!

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