Top Brain Boosting Foods- Gopika
Our brain is an organ that serves the central nervous system and it pretty much controls everything that happens in the body.
60% of our brain is made up of fat and we need fat for providing vital functions in the structuring of brain cells and ensuring smooth communication is possible within the brain. When our body is depleted of vitamins, minerals, fats and amino acids it has an impact on brain structure and function.
Consuming a healthy balanced diet along with a healthy lifestyle improves our brain function and also can reduce our risk of conditions such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and strokes. If we don’t consume enough energy we start to fatigue, get headaches, difficulty focusing and sleeping that’s why nutrition is essential for brain function.
I find with my job it’s always on the go and work life balance can be stressful and I find in the UK compared to other countries stress level is high.
So what affects our mental health and wellbeing? The way we think and function comes from the brain, Our brains are ticking constantly and becoming stressed and anxious increases our cortisol levels and can have an impact on our health leading to erratic eating patterns, feeling unwell and sleepless nights.
One thing I have learnt over the years is making changes to my lifestyle through diet, exercise, sleep, relaxation and mindfulness can improve the way we function and how we feel.
Top Brain food boosters:
Omega 3 and Omega 6– Essential Fatty Acids cannot be made by the body so must come from the diet. Omega 6 sources include vegetable oils and pumpkin seeds, Omega 3 sources include your oily fish, flaxseed, nuts, avocados, dark green leafy vegetables and soya products. Including food sources of Omega 3 and 6 play an important role in brain function and heart health. Remember we need these unsaturated fats in our diet.
Eating fruits rich in flavonoids may have an effect on our memory such as berries, apples and citrus fruits as they contain anthocyanins which can improve brain function. Green leafy vegetables contain iron, vitamin K, folate, Vitamin E and calcium and each of these vitamin and minerals have a vital function in our bodies and can boost our brain function.
Good quality dark chocolate contains flavonoids and magnesium and can increase our serotonin production. Serotonin is a chemical in the brain that can alter our mood and appetite and eating foods that contain tryptophan- eggs, cheese, tofu, nuts and seeds can help us produce more serotonin.
Eat foods rich in Carbohydrates-Your main source of energy, fibre, vitamins and minerals, keeps you fuller for longer and maintains your blood sugar levels. Starchy complex carbohydrates such as wholemeal bread, rice, pasta, sweet potato and oats can keep you mentally alert. Never skip carbohydrates they keep you going!
Hydration- Plenty of water and herbal teas can improve your mental performance and fatigue. Yes Caffeine can help us to stay awake but consuming too much can have an effect on our body function and can make us become more jittery
Our brains work non stop and it’s important to take time out and switch off and in order for our brain to function to it’s optimum; eat a colourful varied diet, try not to skip meals, include plenty of variety of fruits and vegetables, protein, dairy, including unsaturated fats, fluids and see food as a positive and don’t count calories. Enjoy every mouthful, its ok to indulge and learn to have a healthy relationship with food.
Recipe: Raw energy balls
These energy balls are a great snack made from dried fruits and nuts. They contain no added sugar and perfect if you are trying to reduce your sugar intake. Quick, easy and involves no cooking just blending. The perfect snack if you need something to perk your brain up!
1 cup of chopped dates
1 cup of figs
1 cup of whole almonds
1 cup of hazelnuts
1 tbs of smooth peanut butter
1 tbs of cocoa powder
Freeze dried raspberries or strawberries
- In a food processor, combine all the dry and wet ingredients and simply blitz to desired consistency. Add extra peanut butter or dash of water if mixture does not stick together.
- Shape mixture into small round balls
- Coat energy balls with your choice of dusting
- Set in the fridge for 15-30 minutes
- Optional- Use any dried fruits and nuts, sunflower and pumpkin seeds
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