Eating for Smarter Brains

An insider’s guide to the most potent brain foods available at your local supermarket.

Learning and growing smarter and more aware isn’t always easy. It takes hard work, studying the latest findings of whatever piques your interest, and a third ingredient that makes the other two possible: food. But if you think all food is equal when it comes to powering up your gray matter, think again. If you’re feeding your belly the wrong foods, your brain may be paying the price.

How It Works

“Input, output, what goes in is what comes out.” The old children’s song holds many truths, including the fact that what foods go in your body affect what goes on in your brain and ultimately comes out of you. Just like your heart, your brain requires lots of oxygen to function properly. When oxygen-rich blood has a hard time getting to your brain for one reason or another, it becomes difficult to process information and remember events.

Other problems can also arise in the brain due to your diet. One is the build up of free radicals. Free radicals are damaged cells that roam free in your body and harm surrounding healthy cells. The best protection against excessive free radicals is eating plenty of antioxidants. If you don’t provide this protection, your brain can suffer as a result.

Brain Food No-Nos

As if they weren’t seen in a bad enough light, research has found trans-fats and saturated fats to have a bad effect on your ability to think. So avoiding foods high in these fats will help your heart stay healthy and your brain strong and ready to think for years to come. Other foods to avoid for a stronger brain include fast food of all kinds and anything that falls into the “junk food” category. In case you’re wondering, that includes greasy potato chips and just about anything you’ll see in the checkout aisle at the store.

On top of watching certain foods, you should avoid eating too much of anything – good or bad. By eating extra calories, the synapses in your brain that help you think can become less flexible, reducing your ability to learn at your maximum potential. It can also result in damage to damaged cells in your body, forming free radicals that have no regard for what cells it damages, whether they’re located in your arm or your brain.

Powered Up for Success

If you’re ready to beef up your brain, eating the right foods is essential. By including the proper foods in your diet, you enable yourself to learn better and enjoy better memory.

Foods that boost your brain’s potential include the following:

  • salmon
  • walnuts
  • kiwi
  • blueberries
  • spinach
  • orange juice
  • strawberries
  • other foods with omega-3 fatty acids, folic acid, and vitamin B

In addition to helping your brainpower today, researchers have found that eating the right foods can also help you ward off many frightening conditions, including dementia, schizophrenia, depression, and mood disorders. Don’t eat these foods, and you could actually be increasing your risk for these conditions and others. For the most effective brain-boosting diet, try eating smaller food portions at each meal, even if that means you have to consume more meals than the usual three a day.

Live like the Japanese

Want to live a long and healthy life, with your mental health in tact? Mimic the fish-eating folks living on the Japanese island of Okinawa. Eating a fish-filled diet and participating regularly in regular physical activity, the people of Okinawa enjoy some of the world’s longest life expectancies, as well has having a much lower frequency of Alzheimer’s, depression, and other mental disorders.

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