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If You Want to Eat Healthier, You Should Follow This 7-Step Plan

If You Want to Eat Healthier, You Should Follow This 7-Step Plan

Mention healthy eating and there are images of green concoctions and complex recipes swirling in your head. It doesn’t have to be so hard and dull. Let’s break down the simplicity of achieving the balanced diet you want and need.

1. Clean out your kitchen cupboards

That stash of candy and bag of chips have to go. Anything with more than three artificial ingredients, heavily processed foods, anything that contains high amounts of sugar or sodium should be thrown out. Say goodbye to microwavable and packaged meals. Once you’re done cleaning your fridge and emptying your cupboard, check your pockets and bags. Perhaps there are snacks and candy, hidden or forgotten, that need be to chucked as well. Out of sight, out of mouth.

Choosing stems from having options so put yourself in the clear to ensure you’re making smarter choices.

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2. Buy a water filter or a portable container

You’re probably sick of hearing this but it’s worth repeating. Your body needs water, your organs, your brain, your mouth, your stomach. Consider it electricity for the body. Every healthy, balanced diet starts with a proper amount of hydration. Aim for at least one liter of water a day, not including water from the foods you eat.

Having a water mug or container keeps you remain mindful of your required daily intake while a water filter saves you money as it limits the usage of plastic water bottles.

3. Learn the basics on Nutrition Facts

Those nutritional tables you see on the sides and back of nearly everything possess a lot of crucial information. It’s important to know the nutritional value of food. This will help you choose foods that effectively nourish your body with crucial, core nutrients. The Nutrition Facts table should inform you of calories, core nutrients (fat, sodium, protein, fibre..) and the daily value (%DV) of nutrients based on the amount of food. Knowing this will enable you to compare products in order to make better choices and will allow you to choose better products more easily, over time.

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Not all foods have nutrition tables (fruits, meats, alcohol, bread); however discerning which items are healthy for you should be fairly easy.

4. Set a food budget

So the kitchen’s de-cluttered from unhealthy options, you’re drinking like a newborn fish to stay hydrated and avoid overeating, and you actually understand what those digits mean on the nutrition label. You’re on a roll and ready to buy super foods, anti-oxidant fruits and enough lemons to start your own grove.

But before you set out to the grocery store, excited to implement all these changes, do your wallet a favor and set a number for food purchases on a weekly, bi-weekly or monthly basis. This will prevent you from overspending, which we sometimes do to compensate for other cravings, and avoid you from being overwhelmed with too many options.

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5. Make a grocery list

This is the fun part. Budgets and lists are conjoined at the sexy hip of financial management and awareness. Try to diversify your shopping lists to include at least one item from the food pyramid. Stock up on fruits, vegetables and filling items like sweet potatoes, beans and nuts. If you have a sweet tooth, load up on sweet seasonal fruits like apples, mangos, kiwis and grapes. If chips are your weakness, try pistachios instead.

I asked a few friends for reasons why they resort to fast food and the most prevalent response was convenience. Jot down a few easy-to-make meals or go-to recipes to avoid that pitfall. My lazy dinners often involve a baked sweet potato (loaded with vitamin A), a fried egg (protein) and homemade tomato sauce I make in abundance prior to the week.

6. Get creative

Healthy eating boasts many benefits from noticeable energy increase to better moods and easier weight management. However as the day wears on or as you begin to settle into this new change, you might feel tempted to resort back to comfort foods.

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It’s crucial to find a healthy medium between the foods you love and the foods your body needs. Find healthier substitutes for foods you cannot live without. If you despise drinking water all day, buy de-caffeinated green tea or hoard sliced watermelons, cucumbers and carrots. If ice cream is your guilty treat, reduce the amount of times you indulge and consider replacing your daily scoop with a bowl of unsweetened yogurt with sweet and crunchy granola bits. Next time you need something quick between meals, reach for natural oatmeal and slices of actual fruit (bananas, peaches and berries).

I cannot function without my daily dose of dark chocolate and on days where my sugar cravings are out of control, I reach for mango and peach smoothie popsicles.

7. Be patient

Don’t beat yourself up for the occasional slip. It’s okay to make mistakes as they help you adjust to what fits your lifestyle and discover what doesn’t work for you. Incremental changes in the betterment of your diet can be enjoyable, if you stay patient and curious. Sometimes persistent cravings despite all your efforts are signs of a nutrient deficiency. Do a little research.

Healthy eating is not about depriving yourself of the things you enjoy, it’s about finding the balance between the things you love to eat and the food your body needs to function at its best. Continue on that journey to find that balance for yourself.

Featured photo credit: Bruce Tuten via flickr.com

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Jolie Adam

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Last Updated on August 12, 2019

12 Best Foods That Improve Memory and Brain Health

12 Best Foods That Improve Memory and Brain Health

Nutrition plays a vital role in brain function and staying sharp into the golden years. Personally, my husband is going through medical school, which is like a daily mental marathon. Like any good wife, I am always looking for things that will boost his memory fortitude so he does his best in school.

But you don’t have to be a med student to appreciate better brainiac brilliance. If you combine certain foods with good hydration, proper sleep and exercise, you may just rival Einstein and have a great memory in no time.

I’m going to reveal the list of foods coming out of the kitchen that can improve your memory and make you smarter.

Here are 12 best brain foods that improve memory and brain power:

1. Nuts

The American Journal of Epidemiology published a study linking higher intakes of vitamin E with the prevention on cognitive decline.[1]

Nuts like walnuts and almonds (along with other great foods like avocados) are a great source of vitamin E.

Cashews and sunflower seeds also contain an amino acid that reduces stress by boosting serotonin levels.

Walnuts even resemble the brain, just in case you forget the correlation, and are a great source of omega 3 fatty acids, which also improve your mental magnitude.

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2. Blueberries

Shown in studies at Tuffs University to benefit both short-term memory and coordination, blueberries pack quite a punch in a tiny blue package.[2]

When compared to other fruits and veggies, blueberries were found to have the highest amount of antioxidants (especially flavonoids), but strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries are also full of brain benefits.

3. Tomatoes

Tomatoes are packed full of the antioxidant lycopene, which has shown to help protect against free-radical damage most notably seen in dementia patients.

4. Broccoli

While all green veggies are important and rich in antioxidants and vitamin C, broccoli is a superfood even among these healthy choices.

Since your brain uses so much fuel (it’s only 3% of your body weight but uses up to 17% of your energy), it is more vulnerable to free-radical damage and antioxidants help eliminate this threat.

Broccoli is packed full of antioxidants, is well-known as a powerful cancer fighter and is also full of vitamin K, which is known to enhance cognitive function.

5. Foods Rich in Essential Fatty Acids

Your brain is the fattest organ (not counting the skin) in the human body, and is composed of 60% fat. That means that your brain needs essential fatty acids like DHA and EPA to repair and build up synapses associated with memory.

The body does not naturally produce essential fatty acids so we must get them in our diet.

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Eggs, flax, and oily fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel and herring are great natural sources of these powerful fatty acids. Eggs also contain choline, which is a necessary building block for the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, to help you recall information and concentrate.

6. Soy

Soy, along with many other whole foods mentioned here, are full of proteins that trigger neurotransmitters associated with memory.

Soy protein isolate is a concentrated form of the protein that can be found in powder, liquid, or supplement form.

Soy is valuable for improving memory and mental flexibility, so pour soy milk over your cereal and enjoy the benefits.

7. Dark Chocolate

When it comes to chocolate, the darker the better. Try to aim for at least 70% cocoa. This yummy desert is rich in flavanol antioxidants which increase blood flow to the brain and shield brain cells from aging.

Take a look at this article if you want to know more benefits of dark chocolate: 15 Surprising and Science-Backed Health Effects of Dark Chocolate

8. Foods Rich in Vitamins: B vitamins, Folic Acid, Iron

Some great foods to obtain brain-boosting B vitamins, folic acid and iron are kale, chard, spinach and other dark leafy greens.

B6, B12 and folic acid can reduce levels of homocysteine in the blood. Homocysteine increases are found in patients with cognitive impairment like Alzheimer’s, and high risk of stroke.

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Studies showed when a group of elderly patients with mild cognitive impairment were given high doses of B6, B12, and folic acid, there was significant reduction in brain shrinkage compared to a similar placebo group.[3]

Other sources of B vitamins are liver, eggs, soybeans, lentils and green beans. Iron also helps accelerate brain function by carrying oxygen. If your brain doesn’t get enough oxygen, it can slow down and people can experience difficulty concentrating, diminished intellect, and a shorter attention span.

To get more iron in your diet, eat lean meats, beans, and iron-fortified cereals. Vitamin C helps in iron absorption, so don’t forget the fruits!

9. Foods Rich in Zinc

Zinc has constantly demonstrated its importance as a powerful nutrient in memory building and thinking. This mineral regulates communications between neurons and the hippocampus.

Zinc is deposited within nerve cells, with the highest concentrations found in the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for higher learning function and memory.

Some great sources of zinc are pumpkin seeds, liver, nuts, and peas.

10. Gingko Biloba

This herb has been utilized for centuries in eastern culture and is best known for its memory boosting brawn.

It can increase blood flow in the brain by dilating vessels, increasing oxygen supply and removing free radicals.

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However, don’t expect results overnight: this may take a few weeks to build up in your system before you see improvements.

11. Green and Black Tea

Studies have shown that both green and black tea prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine—a key chemical involved in memory and lacking in Alzheimer’s patients.

Both teas appear to have the same affect on Alzheimer’s disease as many drugs utilized to combat the illness, but green tea wins out as its affects last a full week versus black tea which only lasts the day.

Find out more about green tea here: 11 Health Benefits of Green Tea (+ How to Drink It for Maximum Benefits)

12. Sage and Rosemary

Both of these powerful herbs have been shown to increase memory and mental clarity, and alleviate mental fatigue in studies.

Try to enjoy these savory herbs in your favorite dishes.

When it comes to mental magnitude, eating smart can really make you smarter. Try to implement more of these readily available nutrients and see just how brainy you can be!

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Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

Reference

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