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Brain Boosting Foods

[quote]We know that what we eat can play a role in how we feel, affecting our overall health and wellbeing. We know a poor diet can contribute to ill-health: with excessive sugar consumption being an underlying cause of diabetes, and high sodium intake leading to high cholesterol. Good nutrition can help reverse these negative effects on our health.
Above this, besides just being fuel for our bodies, did you know the food we eat can play a role in our cognition and brain functioning too![/quote]

How does food affect our brains?

Almost everything we consume affects our brains in one way or another. Particular nutrients influence our cognition by acting on our molecular systems and cellular processes. For example, we when drink coffee there is an immediate reaction; there is an increased energy boost and alertness.

Four Foods That Improve Our Focus, Concentration & Brain Health:

Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate is well known for its number one ingredient: cocoa. The cocoa found in chocolate contains flavonoids. Flavonoids are a type of antioxidant that improves the flow of blood and oxygen to our brains, particularly, the hippocampus. It’s the hippocampus region promotes learning and memory. (1) *
darkchoc
Nuts
Everyone love to snack on a handful or two of nuts right? I know I do! Nuts are well known for their good fats, protein and vitamin B content. But they offer a whole lot more! Nuts are a great source of Vitamin E. Vitamin E is a type of antioxidant that works to protect our cells against destruction and damage from free radicals circulating in our bodies. Our brains are made up of vital fats and lipids, which are highly susceptible to free radicals. Our brains especially, need protection against oxidative stress. **

Green Leafy Vegetables
Examples of green leafy vegetables include Broccoli Kale. Both of which are great sources of iron and fibre, but they are also rich in glucosinolates. Glucosinolates (group of compounds) slow down the decline of acetylcholine, the neurotransmitter that is essential for our the functioning of our central nervous system. (2) Glucosinolates are believed to improve memory and our ability focus. Low levels of acetylcholine are common in those with Alzheimer’s Disease, a disease characterised and linked to memory loss.
leafygreens
Carbohydrates
Despite the negative mentally surrounding carbohydrates in the media, our brain’s preference for energy is infact carbohydrates. Unlike certain muscles, our brains cannot function on energy just from protein and fats. Our brain functions to its best ability from carbohydrates, in the form of glucose. Of course I am talking about wholegrains and low GI, where the glucose is slowly released into our bloodstreams. These sort of carbohydrates create a slow and steady rise in our blood sugar levels. Not only will this prevent dramatic sugar and insulin spikes, low GI carbohydrates keep us alert and focused for longer periods of time. ***

Final Note
Yes, food tastes good and should be enjoyed. But it is important to know that the purpose of food is way more than just that. We need to fuel our bodies and brains with adequate food and good nutrition to function appropriately. Good nutrition is the easiest and cheapest way to improve our brain functioning.

*To get the benefits of the cocoa from dark chocolate, aim for at least 65% cocoa or more.

**Nuts are very nutritious, but please keep in mind they contain high fat contents and should be eaten in moderation as part of a balanced diet.

***If you are diabetic, please consult with your professional healthcare provider for the appropriate advice for your personal needs.

1. Jeremy P.E. Spencer, , David Vauzour, & Catarina Rendeiro. Flavonoids and cognition: The molecular mechanisms underlying their behavioural effects. Archives of Biochemistry and Biophysics Volume 492, Issues 1–2, December 2009, Pages 1–9

2. Myriam Siegwart et al. Resistance to bio-insecticides or how to enhance their sustainability: a review. Front Plant Sci. 2015; 6: 381. Published online 2015 Jun 19.

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