Average Total Goals In Group Stage World Cup How to Improve Your Memory Through the Best Brain Food

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How to Improve Your Memory Through the Best Brain Food

They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but when it comes to the brain, scientists have found that old adage just doesn’t hold true. The human brain has an amazing capacity to adapt and change – even into old age. This ability is known as “neuroplasticity”. With the right stimulation, your brain can create new neural pathways, change existing connections, and adapt and respond in ever-changing ways.

The brain’s incredible ability to reshape itself applies to learning and memory. You can use the natural power of neuroplasticity to enhance your cognitive abilities, enhance your ability to learn new information, and improve your memory at any age.

Just like the body needs fuel, so does the brain. You probably already know that a diet based on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, “healthy” fats (such as olive oil, nuts, fish) and lean protein will provide many health benefits, but such a diet can also improve memory. But brain health isn’t just about what you eat, it’s also about what you don’t eat. The following nutritional tips will help strengthen your brain and reduce your risk of dementia:

Get Omega-3 – Research shows that omega-3 fatty acids are particularly beneficial for brain health. Fish is a particularly rich source of omega-3s, especially cold-water “fatty fish” such as salmon, tuna, halibut, trout, mackerel, sardines and herring.

If you’re not a fan of seafood, consider non-fish sources of omega-3s, such as walnuts, ground flaxseed, flaxseed oil, winter squash, kidney beans and pinto beans, spinach, broccoli, pumpkin seeds, and soybeans.

Limit calories and saturated fat – Research shows that diets high in saturated fat (from sources such as red meat, whole milk, butter, cheese, cream and ice cream) increase your risk of dementia and impair concentration and memory.

Eat more fruits and vegetables – The product is loaded with antioxidants, substances that protect your brain cells from damage. Colorful fruits and vegetables are particularly good sources of “superfood” antioxidants.

Drink green tea – Green tea contains polyphenols, powerful antioxidants that protect against free radicals that can damage brain cells. Among many other benefits, regular consumption of green tea can improve memory and mental alertness and slow down brain aging.

Drink wine (or grape juice) in moderation – Keeping alcohol consumption under control is key because alcohol kills brain cells. But in moderation (about 1 glass a day for women; 2 for men), alcohol can actually improve memory and cognition. Red wine seems to be the best choice because it is rich in resveratrol, a flavonoid that increases blood flow in the brain and reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Other options with resveratrol include grape juice, cranberry juice, fresh grapes and berries, and peanuts.

Choose complex carbohydrates for mental energy – Just like a race car needs gas, your brain needs fuel to perform at its best. When you need to be at the top of your mental game, carbs can keep you going. But what type of carbs you choose makes all the difference. Carbs fuel your brain, but simple carbs (sugar, white bread, refined grains) will provide a quick boost followed by an equally quick crash. There is also evidence to suggest that diets high in simple carbohydrates may significantly increase the risk of cognitive impairment in older adults. For healthy energy that lasts, choose complex carbohydrates such as whole-wheat bread, brown rice, oatmeal, high-fiber cereals, lentils, and whole beans. Avoid processed foods and limit starches (potatoes, pasta, rice) to no more than one quarter of your plate.

When you think of food, you probably think of that dreaded four-letter word: DIET. Or maybe you’re thinking of the fuel for your body… Or the source of happiness (or frustration!) in your life. What you probably don’t think about is the powerful influence that affects your emotions, your personality, the quality and quantity of your memories, and even WHO you are as a person. But surprise: What you eat directly affects all of the above. It may sound hard to believe, but it is true. Let me explain…

Your brain: a calorie-hungry machine

Your brain only makes up 2-4% of your total body weight, which is about 2-4 pounds for the average person. However, your brain also uses about 20% of all the energy from your food. I’ll say it again: Your brain uses 20% of the energy from the food you eat. Additionally, the type of fuel you feed your brain through food and supplements has a profound effect on how you think, feel, and experience life. You – and your entire human experience – really ARE what you eat. As said Dr. Fotuhi: “What you eat reshapes your brain… for better or for worse”. So once again we need to put the brain first when it comes to improving our health and happiness.

Which nutrients does my brain need… And how much? There are certain nutrients your brain absolutely needs, some you can consume in higher doses to boost performance… and some nutrients your body absolutely does not want. Let’s start with what your brain absolutely needs every day: Fuel. In order for your brain to function properly and constantly repair cells, it needs the energy you get from food. That’s stupid (ha ha, pun intended). But if you’re on an extreme calorie restriction diet, you’re not only limiting the fuel you’re giving your body, you’re also limiting the fuel you’re giving your brain. Why is it dangerous? Even if your intentions are in the right place, you can effectively starve your brain, leading to brain fog, mood swings, anxiety, slower and more difficult learning, feeling unmotivated, etc. Most dangerously, malnutrition for long periods of time can even physically shrink your brain . Calorie restriction diets are NOT the way to go.

Let’s say you’re on a strict calorie restriction diet that limits you to 70% of the actual caloric fuel you (and your brain) need for an average day. That means you’re not getting 30% of the vitamins, minerals, and energy you need just to function to begin with…which equates to about 6% direct malnutrition to your brain.

Starving your brain makes you angry, angry, dull and emotional. And frankly, it will never get you anywhere. Do you know where the willpower to stick to a healthy practice comes from? It comes from giving your brain the right fuel in the right amount to stay strong.

I want to focus for a moment on one particular killer that is extremely dangerous to your brain: Sugar. WebMD even asks the question, “Is sugar worse for you than, say, cocaine?” When up to 80% of all the food we buy at the grocery store contains sugar, it can feel like a losing battle.

Not only is sugar proven to be highly addictive – meaning the more you eat, the more you want to eat – we’re finding that sugar can contribute to the shrinking of your hippocampus (the memory sector of your brain) over time, a hallmark symptom of memory problems.

How does sugar affect your memory? Research from the University of California, Los Angeles suggests that sugar creates free radicals in the brain and threatens the ability of nerve cells to communicate. This can have serious effects on how well we remember instructions, process ideas and manage our moods, says Fernando Gómez-Pinilla, Ph.D., author of the UCLA study. In the short term, you’ve probably seen how sugar can mess with your emotions and rushes of adrenaline, or the stress hormone. Something to consider: Your memory problems may NOT be age related. It could be what you eat. What happens when you eat sugar?

When you eat sugar, your insulin spikes, giving you a short-term boost in dopamine. (Think of dopamine as the “happy chemical.”) You feel happy and energized for a short period of time… maybe a little hyper.

But that high wears off quickly (i.e. NOT a steady source of energy) and eventually you crash. This well-known “sugar crash” produces the stress chemical adrenaline, which can leave you feeling anxious, moody, exhausted, and even depressed.

The USDA recommends staying under 10 teaspoons (40 grams) of added sugar per day. That’s about the equivalent of a bagel or one cup of your typical low-fat yogurt—which tends to be surprisingly high in sugar. (Look at the yogurt label in your fridge and you’ll see what I mean.) Now don’t worry: This daily sugar limit doesn’t include natural fruit and plant sugars in their pure form like an apple. But avoid those mocha lattes at all costs.

Personally, I think sugar is the real reason why a gluten-free diet works so well for many people in terms of overall improvements in body and brain health. It’s not because they remove gluten. (Only 1% of the population has celiac disease, in which case the body does not tolerate gluten). I believe this is because most foods that contain gluten also contain a lot of added sugar: Breads, pastries, etc. Just cutting out sugars can have a huge impact on your mood, memory and clarity of thought.

We also know from countless studies that obesity, high cholesterol, and diabetes can reduce the size and performance of your brain. So if you want to reduce your risk of memory loss, the first and fastest thing you can do is educate yourself about brain-healthy vs. brain-shrinking foods—and eliminate the dangerous foods from your diet immediately.

What are the WORST foods for your memory and cognition?

Salt can be a big culprit, mainly because of excess. Salt is an essential mineral we need to survive, however the USDA recommendation is only 1,500 mg per day. The average American eats 3,400 mg/day, largely because our culture tends to consume a lot of processed and packaged foods. These are the worst when it comes to unknowingly consuming extremely unhealthy amounts of salt – which, by the way, also increases the risk of stroke.

Trans fats are also dangerous for brain health. Typical trans fats are often found in fried foods, margarines, shortenings, non-dairy creamers, ice creams, cake mixes, microwave popcorn, ground beef, frozen dinners, cookies and crackers.

BEST Foods for your brain

If you want to improve your memory, mood, and cognition, you want to focus on a “brain healthy” diet. This includes eating foods that promote the growth of new brain cells, as well as taking a quality daily supplement with the right amount of specific nutrients to give your brain the building blocks it needs to stay sharp. One of these nutrients is called DHA, found in Omega 3 fatty acids, which helps reduce inflammation in the brain. Many researchers have found that people with behavioral problems, children with ADHD, and people with Alzheimer’s disease have lower than normal levels of DHA.

For example, in Gothenburg, Sweden, researchers conducted a study on more than 9,000 students. They found that children who ate one serving of fish per week (a great source of DHA) performed 15% better than students who ate less than one serving of fish per week. I recommend you aim for 1,000 mg of DHA each day through food and/or supplements.

The best diets for memory and learning

As an overall eating style full of brain-healthy foods, most scientists recommend the Mediterranean diet as a great plan to give your body and brain the highest quality foods even as you’re trying to lose weight. I also highly recommend following trusted food gurus like Mike Geary aka: “The Nutrition Watchdog” for more tips. Need some motivation? Here’s a fun fact for you: Those who follow a healthy diet combined with exercise have a 65% LOWER chance of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

Here’s a good list of tasty brain-healthy foods: Olive oil, garlic, peas, blueberries, green tea, cabbage, nuts and seeds, fatty fish such as salmon, trout, mackerel, herring, sardines, tomatoes, pumpkin seeds, black currants, broccoli, sage, eggs.

All of these foods are great for kids and adults alike; for studying, improving memory and just feeling great all around.

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