Food for Thought11.13.12
There’s no doubt that the human brain is a living powerhouse. It’s a metabolically busy machine, with 100 billion nerves using 20 percent of your body’s energy, more than any other organ. Your memory, your hearing, your vision, your movement, your sleep, your mood, your balance and your coordination are all orchestrated by the brain. Cotton Candy editors encourage everyone to keep the best brain foods on their minds. Take a look at this list of eats and treats provided by NYC’s Nutrition Energy that’s sure to help you eat smart and think smart about your optimal mental performance.
Blueberries contain loads of antioxidants, which can fight off free radicals. In plain English, free radicals are damaged cells in your body that kill healthy cells, including brain cells. The brain is more sensitive to free radical damage than any other part of the body. Blueberries help protect the brain from oxidative stress, which can produce cell-damaging free radicals. Some animal studies have shown blueberries may reduce the effects of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, caused by the death of brain cells, as well as improve learning capacity and motor skills in aging rats.
Avocado is a great source of monounsaturated fat. About 2/3 of the brain is composed of fatty acids, which are what your brain uses to create the specialized cells that allow you to think and feel. More specifically, the monounsaturated fat in avocados contributes to healthy blood flow to the brain, which can help relieve stress, tension and depression. Healthy blood flow reduces the risk of hypertension, which is a risk factor for cognitive decline.
Nuts and seeds are good sources of vitamin E, another powerful antioxidant. High levels of vitamin E have been associated with less cognitive decline as you get older. Choose unsalted nuts if you’re on a sodium-restricted diet, and limit your portion to 1/4 of a cup for caloric control.
Wild salmon are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are highly concentrated in the brain and appear to be important for cognitive (both memory and performance) and behavioral function. These essential fatty acids not only contain anti-inflammatory substances, but they are required to build brain cells.
Beans are high in protein and complex carbohydrates. The brain needs two times more energy than other cells in the body, and glucose (from carbohydrates) is the only fuel normally used by brain cells. The fiber in beans provides a steady stream of glucose, which is important, since the brain cannot store glucose. The protein in beans provides the brain with amino acids to make neurotransmitters, the brain’s networkers and communicators.
Final Note: Here are a few more healthy tips for the brain. Get plenty of exercise: exercise increases blood flow to the brain, releases hormones and stimulates the nervous system. Stabilize your sleeping pattern: regulating the times you go to bed and wake up in the morning can help eliminate depression. Get enough sleep: sleep deprivation impacts the brain’s ability to store information. Quit smoking: smoking increases your risk of cerebrovascular disease, a condition that prohibits your brain from receiving the amount of blood it needs to function properly.