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July 17, 2013
by Ashley Marie

Wednesday Wisdom: The Brain Diet

July 17, 2013 02:41 by Ashley Marie

 

 

 

Most of us try to incorporate healthy foods into our meals. Balanced diets help us maintain a healthy weight, fight disease, build muscle, and improve our general well being.

But have you considered the relationship between your diet and your brain?

As part of my series on brainpower, this week I will outline some foods that help enhance your mental capacity.

Brilliant Breakfast

According to Dean et al., you should not skip any meals if you want to eat your way to a brilliant brain.[1]

As someone who would rather sleep in longer than wake up earlier to make breakfast, this is a bit of a challenge. But the good news is that you can make a healthy breakfast that requires very little time and effort.

1 Slice of Whole Grain Toast

Sorgen explains that whole grains promote a healthy blood flow, which is important for the brain.[2] Whole grains help cells reproduce and provide us with the energy we need to think clearly and accurately.[3] 

During a stressful week of work or exams, we need to pay special attention to our choice of carbohydrates. Typically, we crave carb-filled foods when we feel stressed. However, we need to digest complex carbohydrates.[4]  This is because whole grains are rich in fibre, which help reduce fatigue. 

1 Egg

Our minds need healthy sources of protein, especially foods that are low in cholesterol and fat. In fact, high-fat proteins like sausage and bacon can actually make you feel tired.[5]  Lean sources of protein, such as chicken, eggs, and low-fat milk, do the exact opposite. They are high in vitamin B12, which helps improve cognitive skills.

1 Cup of Orange Juice

Vitamin C also helps reduce stress, thereby allowing you to think calmly and clearly. This vitamin helps balance the body’s production of cortisol, a chemical that contributes to stress[6]. Too much cortisol can hinder our ability to learn and remember information. So, it is important to digest fruits rich in vitamin C, such as oranges, strawberries, and kiwis.

Clever Caffeine 

1 Cup of Tea

You felt energized after breakfast, drove to work on time, and had a fresh start to your day. But now you’re craving just that small boost of energy to get you through the morning.

As explained by Evans, caffeine can help increase your focus.[7] Tea leaves have antioxidant properties, which reduce brain deterioriation. In fact, antioxidants are often used to treat brain injuries.[8] Moreover, coffee grains contain magnesium, which contributes to healthy blood sugar regulation.[9]

So, go ahead and make yourself a hot cup of coffee or tea – just avoid overdoing the cream and sugar. 

Logical Lunch

Asian Broccoli with Tofu on Rice Noodles

Tofu is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, which stimulates your ability to absorb and retain knowledge.[10] Try some tofu with your favourite Asian sauce, and add some broccoli to the mix. Broccoli is rich in iron, which helps your blood supply oxygen to your brain. Diets with high sources of iron help enhance mental reasoning. In fact, iron deficiencies can contribute to learning disabilities and low IQ scores.[11]

As outlined earlier, your brain needs healthy carbohydrates, so opt for rice noodles or whole grain noodles, rather than regular noodles.  

Mind Munchies

Dark Chocolate

You powered through a productive day of work, and now you’re ready for a nice break. To satisfy a sweet craving, have a bite of some dark chocolate.

Dark chocolate includes antioxidants and caffeine. Both increase our concentration.

Moreover, chocolate helps our bodies produce endorphins, which make us happier.  Speaking from personal experience, my productivity tends to be a lot greater when I am in a good mood. So, some dark chocolate, in moderation, is a good brain food.

Savvy Supper

Chicken Salad with Beets and Walnuts

Beets help nourish your neurons, which stimulate your brain.[12] Furthermore, chicken is a lean source of protein. To finish off your salad, sprinkle on some walnuts. Recent studies have shown that eating walnuts helps your memory skills. They are also an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids.  

Bon Appetit!

Eating healthy takes some forethought, but it is a smart way to boost your brainpower. The next time you go grocery shopping, remember that a balanced diet not only helps you maintain a healthy weight and fight disease – it also helps you become sharper and more focused. Cheers to a smarter you!


[1] Dean, C., V. Dmitriev, and D. Raskin. 2009. 365 Ways to Boost Your Brain Power: Tips, Exercise, Advice. F&W Media Company.

[2] Sorgen, C. 2013/ Eat Smart for a Healthier Brain. Web MD. [online] <http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/eat-smart-healthier-brain>

[3] Dean, C., V. Dmitriev, and D. Raskin. 2009. 365 Ways to Boost Your Brain Power: Tips, Exercise, Advice. F&W Media Company.

[4] Toffelmire, A.. 2013. How To Take a Bite Out Of Stress. C-Health. [online] <http://chealth.canoe.ca/channel_section_details.asp?text_id=5046&channel_id=11&relation_id=27878>

[5] Evans, L. 2013. Sharpen Your Memory with Brain-Healthy Foods. Entrepreneur. [online] <http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/226179>

[6] Toffelmire, A.. 2013. How To Take a Bite Out Of Stress. C-Health. [online] <http://chealth.canoe.ca/channel_section_details.asp?text_id=5046&channel_id=11&relation_id=27878>

[7] Evans, L. 2013. Sharpen Your Memory with Brain-Healthy Foods. Entrepreneur. [online] <http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/226179>

[8] Reiter, R.J.  1995.  Oxidative processes and antioxidative defense mechanisms in the aging brain. The FASEB Journal. [online] <http://www.fasebj.org/content/9/7/526.full.pdf>

[9] Beck, L. 2012. Which is healthier: tea or coffee? The Globe and Mail. [online] <http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/health-and-fitness/ask-a-health-expert/which-is-healthier-tea-or-coffee/article546635/>

[10] 2013. Fish oil ‘can restore the brain after junk food.’ Mail Online. [online] <http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2325293/Fish-oil-restore-brain-junk-food-Diets-rich-omega-3s-play-key-role-reversing-damage-caused-high-fats.html>

[11] Toffelmire, A.. 2013. How To Take a Bite Out Of Stress. C-Health. [online] <http://chealth.canoe.ca/channel_section_details.asp?text_id=5046&channel_id=11&relation_id=27878>

[12] Evans, L. 2013. Sharpen Your Memory with Brain-Healthy Foods. Entrepreneur. [online] <http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/226179>

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