When getting going is next to impossible and the task at hand is just not getting done, a quick fix might seem like the most tempting option. But did you know that a brief detour to the kitchen could be a much healthier alternative?
The latest research shows a healthy diet and lifestyle can improve the functioning of our brains and certain nutrients found in everyday foods play a part in improving brain power, focus and energy – helping you tackle the days to do list, no chemicals added.
Coffee isn’t the only drink that’s known to give its consumers a bit of a buzz. “Caffeine in green tea can energize you and help you focus,” says Lauren Harris-Pincus, a registered Dietician and Nutritionist and founder of Nutrition Starring YOU, where she specializes in weight management and prediabetes. Furthermore, a study published in the Journal of Pharmacology found that green tea increases the brain’s effective connectivity, leading to an improvement in cognitive performance and memory. Plus the age old East Asian brew contains an antioxidant called EGCG that fights off degenerative diseases and helps with memory and spatial learning.
“Wild caught salmon is a great source of protein and is packed with omega-3 fatty acids, which can balance blood sugar and decrease inflammation in the brain,” says Daphne Olivier, a registered Dietician and Nutritionist. Research has also found that omega-3 fatty acids provide more oxygen to the brain helping to improve cognitive and intellectual functioning. Not a fan of salmon? Try tuna or herring – they are also known to be beneficial to brain health.
Studies have found that children who ate a high fiber, complex carbohydrate breakfast performed better in school, showing a 20 percent improvement on memory tasks. “Whole grains provide a source of sustained energy and digest more slowly than refined grains,” says Harris-Pincus. “If possible, go for whole grains like oatmeal that are less processed than wheat bread.” Adding ground flax, a seed rich in alpha-linolenic acid (a type of plant-based omega-3 fatty acid) to your oatmeal can also help control blood clotting, build cell membranes in the brain and reduce inflammation.
Vegetables like spinach, kale, and collard greens contain a variety of nutrients including vitamin K, a nutrient known to enhance brain function, and B vitamins such as vitamin B6, B12, and folate, which are essential to nerve and brain activity. Furthermore research from the Journal of Neurology found that people who ate leafy greens daily showed the same mental focus as someone five years younger than them.
Not only is it a staple brunch item, avocado is also an excellent source of monounsaturated fats, which can help promote blood flow, preserve memory and improve brain functioning. “Avocado can be used to create blood sugar balance to add in addition to low glycemic carbohydrates,” says Olivier. Top off your avo toast with an egg, full of vitamins B6, B12, folates and choline, which recent research suggests may prevent brain shrinkage and delay cognitive decline.