Here are three clues: It weighs about 3 pounds. It’s lumpy and wrinkled looking. It’s 85% water. Answer quickly – what is it? It’s your brain.
This miraculous organ generates about a million neurons each second, about the same rate at which they die off. These neurons are tiny electrochemical transmitters that keep the body running, along with the synapses that connect them. They are the workhorses of the brain. Not only does this invaluable organ serve as the motherboard for every other system in the body, it is also the seat of your mind, your thoughts, and your sense that you exist at all. You are your brain. It is source of all emotion, memory, and the connection to your senses – so it makes perfect sense to take really good care of it. What’s best for the brain?
Unlike the commonly held belief that damaged brain cells can never be replaced, we know that brain cells regenerate themselves constantly. Your brain functions can be improved in many ways – pushing your brain beyond it’s normal capacity, changing your routine, exercising, even relaxing and taking vacations can improve your brain function.
But there’s more to it than that – and here’s some information on “food for thought”:
Food that’s bad for your heart is also bad for your brain. Saturated fat clogs arteries that lead to your brain and put you at increased risk of stroke. Omega-3 fatty acids, on the other hand, are helpful for your brain because they help to keep your arteries clear. These favorable fats are found in fish (especially wild salmon, whitefish, tilapia, catfish, mahi mahi, and trout) should be eaten 2-3 times/week.
Nuts also contain monounsaturated fats, a healthy form of fat that not only clear your arteries, they improve the levels of precursors of serotonin in your brain to improve your mood. Add in one once per day of almonds or walnuts for both benefits.
And speaking of moods – add in cocoa-based chocolate (one ounce/day) to increase dopamine release and enjoy the health benefits of flavonoids (plant chemicals found in chocolate) that help keep arteries young and healthy.
Folate (a B vitamin) and lycopene (a phytochemical) are found in tomato juice and spaghetti sauce, as well as other cooked tomato products. Have 2 tablespoons of spaghetti sauce or 1 cup of tomato juice daily for optimum prostate, heart and brain health.
Coffee, and the caffeine it contains, has a beneficial impact on neurotransmitters. Too much can be problematic for individuals who are sensitive to it, or to men with already enlarged prostates, but for most of us, coffee can help your brain stay young. Drink 1-2 cups daily to ward off Parkinson and Alzheimer’s diseases.
Looking for more ways to “smarten up” your meals? Consider folate-rich foods like asparagus, artichokes, Brussels sprouts, black-eyed peas and sunflower seeds. These foods can help reduced homocysteine levels dramatically, which decreases your risk of stroke (elevated homocysteine levels can cause deterioration of the arterial wall, buildup of plaque and inflammation). B6 rich foods like chicken and bananas are good for the brain, too. Most evidence says that we learn things more efficiently when we are alert and mentally focused – the brain’s capacity to learn is almost limitless. So, get adequate rest, eat well, exercise vigorously and relax frequently.
Finally, olive oil, nut oils, fish oils, flaxseed, avocados and soybeans all contain favorable, monounsaturated fats, along with fiber and protein (in the soybeans). These help keep your blood flowing freely through your arteries, which in turn, brings blood flow to the brain. And your blood carries oxygen, which your brain needs to work properly.
Want to more about the best foods for a healthy brain? Curious about maximizing your thinking power? Maybe your wellness goals revolve around other nutrition, fitness or lifestyle issues. Mastering your health begins with defining your concept of wellness. Visit www.JackieKeller.com and take the simple “Designing Your Vision of Wellness” quiz to learn more about how Wellness Coaching can benefit the total YOU! Now that’s smart thinking.