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BRAIN FOOD > Best Food To Keep Your Brain Sharp & Healthy
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Nourishing our brain with good food while having to sit for long hours on end at our home-office desk is important. Not just for overall health and wellbeing, but to keep our brain sharp, nourished and alert so we can continue to work productively from home.
The Importance of Brain Health
The Cleveland Clinic, in one of their articles titled, The 6 Pillars of Brain Health sums up the importance of brain health beautifully: “Lifestyle has a profound impact on your brain health. What you eat and drink, how much you exercise, how well you sleep, the way you socialize, and how you manage stress is all critically important to your brain health.”
It can often happen that we neglect the health of our brain when working from home, or when traveling the world as a digital nomad and sitting long hours on end to get our clients’ work done. Serving nourishing food to our brains is important. Our brain is one of the most incredible organs that we have. The grand conductor in our lives plays a vital role in everything we do. Yet, we often overlook the brain and its influence on our overall health and wellbeing, not to speak of overall performance and productivity.
If the brain is not nourished, various conditions and diseases can affect it. To help your brain function at its best, it’s important to incorporate healthy and nourishing brain food into your diet. This can be achieved through various methods, such as:
DAILY FOOD INTAKE
Incorporate healthy brain foods into your recipes when cooking at home or preparing food. \
Top Tip: The easiest way to remember to add healthy brain foods to cooking is by having the ingredients within easy reach on your kitchen’s preparation counter.
BRAIN FOOD WITHIN EASY REACH
One of the best ways to keep the brain nourished is to set up a small corner of your desk with what I term a brain food health corner. Add brainfoods such as almonds, cranberries, and dates to glass bottles, and display these on your desk. Fill a small bowl with some fruits or cut vegetables such as carrots daily, and keep on your desk to chew on during snack times.
Top Tip: There is no need to go out and buy fancy or expensive Tupperware and bottles. You can simply use the glass bottles that coffee or tea comes in, or Tupperware after you’ve used butter. I usually clean the glass bottles and let them sit open for 4 – 5 days before adding dried fruits and nuts to them for my office desk.
Nourishing Facts: Almonds contain 26% carbohydrates (of which 12% is dietary fiber), 20 % high-quality protein, as well as vitamins E, B, essential minerals, and healthy fat.
Almonds are fantastic brain food! They contain alpha-tocopherol, which is a form of vitamin E that can be absorbed the most effectively by the human body. After exercise, free-radical damage is prevented with the aid of this clever vitamin, which means your muscles can recover faster. Vitamin E within almonds further aid the brain, by helping to preserve the memory for longer, and helps to prevent cognitive decline. The good amount of essential minerals, healthy fat, protein, carbohydrates, and vitamins within almonds often work in unison to aid our health. A combination of magnesium with vitamin E and B, for example, can boost our immune system.
Top Tip: If you find the almonds to hard to chew, soak a couple overnight in freshwater. By morning, take out and let dry for a couple of minutes. Eat raw or blend the almonds finely and add honey to create a healthy morning snack for your brain.
Nourishing Facts: Walnuts are classified as tree nuts. They are consumed daily by thousands of individuals worldwide. Their nutritional benefits for body and specifically brain health are endless.
Vitamin B6, E, Folic Acid, Omega-3 Fats, Proteins, and anti-oxidants are but some of the nutrients and vitamins that they offer. They not only benefit the body but most importantly the brain as well.
Walnuts are a nice booster for your energy levels if you feel that afternoon slump sneaking up on you.
They are also very versatile and can be eaten raw, used in a salad, or in other forms of cooking.
Top Tip: Walnuts make a great “on the go” snack. You can keep a small container in your handbag or gym bag for when you crave something to chew on. They also make great lunch box snacks for the kids and will help to boost their brainpower.
Nourishing Facts: Blueberries are some of the lesser-known berries around. Cooking shows on television featuring world-renowned chefs have brought this little gem to our homes. People have started to learn that this fruit not only looks nice but tastes delicious.
Blueberries produce high contents of anthocyanins. This compound is very important for anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties.
Our brains age just as our bodies do.
Blueberries are one of the key ingredients that can help to slow the aging process and help to combat neurodegenerative diseases. They also improve cell-to-cell communication in the brain itself.
Top Tip: Blueberries can be eaten directly as a snack, or used in the cooking process. Try sprinkling a few over your breakfast cereal in the morning. You will surely impress your friends and spruce up an otherwise boring porridge.
Nourishing Facts: Strawberries are delicious superfoods. Not only do they taste nice and look pretty, but they have loads of benefits. Strawberries help with the preservation of brain health in the body. They fight oxidation and inflammation which can lead to brain degeneration.
Their cancer-fighting abilities are also well documented. Partly due to the ellagic acid they contain. The host of B-vitamins help to build disease resistance and fight off some of those nasty stress-related conditions. The B-vitamins are crucial to help support overall brain and mental well-being.
Top Tip: Strawberries are fun to use in salads and are also well presentable as a healthy cocktail snack. Children also enjoyed picking and eating them straight from the garden or strawberry farm.
Nourishing Facts: If I told you cinnamon is very valuable, would you believe me? Probably not, unless you are a pancake slave.
In Ancient Egypt, the people realized the real value of cinnamon. Apart from being a spice, it has health and medicinal benefits.
Cinnamon is on top of the list when it comes to spices good for the brain. It reduces overall oxidation in the brain and helps with cognitive functioning and can lead to improved memory function.
In Parkinson’s disease, dopamine production is impaired. Cinnamon helps to protect the production thereof and can lead to the overall improvement in motor function.
If you are looking to lose weight, this spice is for you. It will help to keep food cravings at bay.
Top Tip: This versatile spice you can use in your food, on desserts, or even in hot drinks. A healthy alternative to a warm winter drink – just add some to your tea. It will lift your mood, keep you warm, and boost your health at the same time.
Nourishing Facts: Turmeric is a spice widely used when cooking. It gives a nice flavor and color to any dish.
When your brain feels foggy or your emotions tend to drag you down, turmeric can just be what you need to lift you up. This spice has superb health benefits. When consumed, it can directly nourish the brain.
Curcumin is a core ingredient in this spice. This ingredient can help improve your mood, enhance cell growth, and also assist to improve memory function in Alzheimer patients.
Turmeric also contains anti-oxidants and has some wonderful anti-inflammatory properties.
Top Tip: Nobody ever feels like trying to wash down a spoonful of spice. Rather utilize its benefits more indirectly in the cooking process. You can incorporate it into a variety of dishes.
Nourishing Facts: Apart from the negative connotations on the stains that beetroots leave on your clothes, their health benefits are endless.
Beetroots are root vegetables.
They contain most of the vitamins and minerals required for a healthy diet.
Nitrates found in beetroots tend to have a blood pressure-lowering effect on the body. This can greatly improve your chances of getting a heart attack or suffering a stroke.
Cognitive and mental function improvement has been noted with this vegetable. Beetroot dilates the blood, causing a better flow to and from the brain.
The frontal lobe of the brain benefits the most due to this. This part of your brain controls thinking and decision-making.
Some speculation has been going around suggesting the possible reduction in the risk of falling prey to dementia.
No definite answer to this is available and more research on the topic is suggested.
Top Tip: Beetroots can be used in such a variety of manners.
Create a dip for snacking, as a salad, a health drink, or even cooking and eating the leaves (in a similar fashion to spinach).
Nourishing Facts: These little green “trees” are not very well loved amongst children across the world.
If they only realized what magic lies within. Broccoli and the brain should be listed together. The benefits of our brains are so vast.
The healing properties in broccoli help to heal the brain. Damaged cells can be rebuilt and inflammation and oxidation combated.
The sulforaphane it contains helps to improve overall cognitive functioning.
Studying for the exams? Stock up on broccoli. Studies have shown that it actually aids in the learning process. And if you need to win the debate, then definitely have a plateful. Your reasoning ability will be enhanced. The lutein in broccoli protects the valuable crystallized intelligence in our brains – the problem-solving skills which we gain through years of life experience.
Top Tip: Broccoli is not always pleasant to eat as is, and doesn’t look too appetising either. Try adding a tasty sauce to the dish to make it more appealing to the eyes.
Nourishing Facts: Coconut oil has been dubbed a “superfood”. The nutritional benefits contained here are so many.
Burning fat, improving heart health, improving oral hygiene, reducing hunger, improving “good” cholesterol, improve skin, hair, and teeth and helps to improve seizures in epilepsy sufferers.
Although it might not fully cure Alzheimer’s disease, the ketones in coconut oil have been known to improve the symptoms.
Some modern beauty gurus proclaim the benefits of using coconut oil in face masks and other beauty routines.
Top Tip: Use this product to its full potential – to create a face mask, as a hair moisturizer, and even in your food for the internal health benefits.
Nourishing Facts: In recent times, Avocado Oil has been recognized for its health properties. It contains loads of healthy fats, antioxidants, and lutein – which are essential for good eye health.
Avocado oil increases “good” cholesterol in the body. Cholesterol levels in the body are decreased and blood pressure also improves. Very good markers to prevent heart attacks and strokes.
Avocado oil further helps with nutrient absorption, improvement in arthritis as well as the prevention and combating of gum disease.
Top Tip: This versatile oil can be used in almost anything. You can use it in cold dishes, hot dishes, over salads, whilst baking or even add a bit to your smoothie for some added nutritional value.
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