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Brain Food

20 March 2014 By In Blog

The next time you are over - reacting to something trivial or searching in the recess of your brain to remember some information that you should easily recall consider what you have eaten prior to this.
Certain foods can have a powerful effect on us emotionally, mentally and physically. Foods which contain excess sugar, starch and refined white flour are associated with a dip in blood glucose shortly after eating them, inflicting a blood-sugar imbalance and this can cause a fluctuation in our moods. These fluctuations can cause us to become anxious, irritable, confused, lacking in concentration and to have a headache. An amino acid called Tryptophan, is present in certain foods and has a role in regulating our moods. It helps the brain to produce another chemical called seretonin ('the feel good chemical') which keeps us satisfied, calm and helps sleep regulation. Foods such as wholegrain cereals, oats and breads will enable the brain to have a more constant release of the seretonin, providing calmness for longer. Fresh dark green leafy vegetables and celery contain magnesium, which helps to calm and fight misery and confusion. . Other foods to help with promotion of seretonin are apricots, bananas, honey and nuts.

Salmon is also in the above group of foods but it has two fold benefits for our brain. It contains Omega - 3 fatty acids, which play an important part in brain activity possibly boosting our brainpower. The connection between lack of Omega 3 intake and behavioural conditions such as hyperactivity, depression and aggression are well studied and documented.

Studies have also found that one of the essential fatty acids (EFAs) omega -3, assists brain development in babies before they are born and when they are growing as young children, maybe leading to increased attentiveness and intelligence. Considering that the solid part of our brains are made up of sixty per cent of fat, fat is essential for brainpower so long as it is from this type of source. Omega 6 is another EFA and these foodstuffs are in sunflower, corn and soya oils and spreads, seeds such as sunflower ad pumpkin. Other fish such as tuna, trout, mackerel, sardines, herring, pilchards and crab also can give the same benefit. Fresh fish is a better source but tinned is certainly better than nothing. The British Dietetic association recommends adults eat two portions a week. If this is not possible however a supplement could be taken of concentrated fish-oils, some supplements are taste and odour free. For children there is even a fruit flavoured solution in sachets or capsules that are ideal if they do not like fish.

Pregnant women need the omega 3 source in the last three months of pregnancy when the baby will take what it requires for development from the mother, sometimes causing the "brain fog' experienced in late pregnancy. Capsules can be taken if there is no fresh source available which will provide the exact requirements during pregnancy. However if pregnant avoid swordfish, marlin and too much tuna as there can be concentrated amounts of mercury.
To conclude, it is certainly worth giving your brain a boost if you want to enhance its function or if you have a rather tough exam or test on a certain day. There may also be benefits to keen sports players or exercisers as fish oils can help to keep the joints supple under pressure.

Read 1959 times Last modified on Tuesday, 21 October 2014 16:19
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