Food for Thought: Boost your brain by eating more “super foods”

Contributed by Angela Fitch, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine, Director, Women’s Center Metabolic Health & Weight Loss Program

ThinkstockPhotos-155243533It’s mid-year and it may be time for a reboot! If you’re already incorporating these brain boosting foods into your daily meals, great! If you aren’t, let’s get started so you can help enhance your brain, ultimately giving you more energy and helping to prevent disease.

  1. Eat more whole grains. Like everything else in your body, the brain cannot work without energy.  The ability to concentrate and focus comes from having plenty of energy – in the form of glucose in our blood to the brain. Incorporate this by choosing whole grains with a low glycemic index (GI), which release glucose slowly into the bloodstream, keeping you mentally alert throughout the day. Vegetables, fruits, seafood, meats, dairy, grains, nuts and seeds, beans and legumes, and spices and herbs all have low GI.
  2. Add “good” oil. Essential fatty acids (EFAs) are necessary for the formation of healthy cell membranes and proper development and functioning of the brain and nervous system. The most effective omega-3 fats occur naturally in oily fish such as salmon, halibut, mackerel and tuna. Other good sources include linseed (flaxseed) oil, soya bean oil, walnut oil, pumpkin seeds, kale and parsley.
  3. Eat more fruits & vegetables with lycopene. Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant found in the carotenoid family of plants. Carrots, tomatoes, watermelon, guava fruit, papaya, pink grapefruit, sweet red peppers, red cabbage and mangoes all have lycopene but tomatoes are considered one of the best forms of lycopene in our diet. It’s a good protector against the kind of free radical damage to cells which occurs in the development of dementia, particularly Alzheimer’s.
  4. Eat more blueberries. Like lycopene, blueberries contain powerful antioxidants that neutralize free radicals linked to the development of cancer, cardiovascular disease and improving or delaying short term memory loss.
  5. Take your vitamins. B vitamins – B6, B12 and folic acid – are known to reduce levels of homocysteine in the blood. Elevated levels of homocysteine are associated with increased risk of stroke, cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease. Vitamin E also aides in preventing cognitive decline, particularly in the elderly. Nuts are a great source of vitamin E and dark green leafy vegetables are a great source for B & E vitamins.

Eating nourishing and healthy foods along with exercise gives brains the best chance of avoiding disease.

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