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Mediterranean Diet Is Proven Good For The Brain, Science Says

Mediterranean Diet Is Proven Good For The Brain, Science Says

Fruits, veggies, nuts, legumes, whole grains, fish and olive oil! That’s all the goodness that’s good for you…plus some lean protein (chicken/meat) once in awhile if you so desire. And oh…sometimes a sip of red wine pairs perfectly with it all…

This is the basis of the Mediterranean diet which (although thousands of years old) made the news headlines a few years back.

So whats the latest buzz about the Med diet? Researchers have studied groups of individuals, particularly those who live in Mediterranean areas (ie. Spain) and consumed a Mediterranean type diet. Not only has this diet shown to decrease the risk of heart attacks and strokes, but more recently researchers have found this type of diet to have a correlation to protecting the brain. JoAnn Manson, chief of the division of preventive medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital  (and professor at Harvard) believes, “what’s good for the heart is good for the brain,” because regular ingesting of the primary foods in this diet can help to improve cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and blood glucose levels. All of these markers ultimately affect brain health.

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Moreover, a diet high in antioxidant rich foods, such as fruits and veggies, helps to combat oxidation stress–that’s the damage our cells undergo by free radicals. The antioxidants in the foods help repair the cells and prevent further damage.

The Omega 3 and 6’s found in fish, olive oil, nuts and some veggies work to boost your immunity and optimize your neural network (ie. more improved brain health)! Researchers are now beginning to believe that many of these foods can shave off age-related memory loss.

So if you haven’t yet added the Mediterranean diet to your own personal daily regime, it’s probably time to start. At least give it a try. Here’s a pretty quick and easy recipe, made with the anti-aging goodness of the Mediterranean in mind:

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garlicky quinoa

    Garlicky Quinoa and Garbanzo Bean Salad (with appreciation and credit to Allrecipes.com)

    This dish will get you moving “Mediterranean style” with broccoli, whole grain (quinoa), legumes (garbanzo beans), zesty herbs, lemon and not-to-miss olive oil! Notice how all of these ingredients are healthy, hearty and mixed to be especially tasty. If you prefer to add some extra (non vegan) protein, add cubed roasted chicken breast or roasted salmon for a lovely flair!

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    Ingredients

    1/2 cup uncooked quinoa                          3/4 cup chopped broccoli                         1 TSP dried tarragon

    1 cup water                                                 1 clove minced garlic                              3 TSPs coarse-grained mustard

    1 can drained garbanzo beans                   1 TBSP fresh lemon juice                       3 TBSPs  extra virgin olive oil

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    Directions

    1. Bring the quinoa and water to a boil in a saucepan. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until quinoa is tender–about 15-20 minutes.
    2. Put cooked quinoa in mixing bowl and add garbanzo beans, broccoli, garlic, lemon juice, tarragon, mustard and olive oil. Stir well. Season with sea salt and pepper to taste.

    This recipe is fairly quick and easy to prepare (10 min plus an additional 15 min of cooking time)! Voila, you can have yourself a healthy heart and BRAIN meal in under half an hour. Just what your body needs–and it works perfectly into your schedule after a long day at work or at home with the family!

    Now let it be said, that even the Mediterraneans know that just eating healthy food won’t alone necessarily optimize their health. Sprinkle in daily exercise, laughter, generosity, kindness, family time and community…and now you begin to develop an entire culture of well being and healthier lifestyle. Nothing can truly survive in a  vacuum. It all has to work in tandem: Diet-Movement-Outlook-Self Care- Gratitude-and of course your own set of beautiful genetics!

    So who is “in” for a trip to the Mediterranean with me? Salty warm ocean waters, sandy beaches or daring cliffs, sunshine, warmhearted souls, healthy food, and the best brain trip you can imagine!

    Featured photo credit: Miguel Discart via flickr.com

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    Last Updated on November 11, 2019

    How to Improve Memory and Boost Your Brainpower

    How to Improve Memory and Boost Your Brainpower

    Have you ever noticed that some people are able to effortlessly remember even the most mundane details and quickly comprehend new things? Well, you can too!

    To unlock the full potential of your brain, you need to keep it active and acute. Wasting time on your couch watching mindless television shows or scrolling through facebook is not going to help.

    Besides getting out flashcards, what can you do to help remember things better and learn new things more quickly? Check out these 10 effective ways on how to improve memory:

    1. Exercise and Get Your Body Moving

    Exercising doesn’t just exercise the body, it also helps to exercise your brain. Obesity and the myriad of diseases that eventually set in as a result of being overweight can cause serious harm to the brain.

    Furthermore, without regular exercise, plaque starts to build up in your arteries, and your blood vessels begin to lose the ability to effectively pump blood. Plaque buildup leads to heart attacks and it also reduces the amount of oxygen and nutrients that your blood carries to your brain. When the nutrients don’t make it there, the brain’s ability to function is compromised.

    To prevent this from happening, make sure you get moving every day. Even if it’s just a brisk walk, it’ll help you maintain and increase your mental acuity. Brisk walking, swimming and dancing are all excellent activities. Take a look at these 5 Ways to Find Time for Exercise.

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    2. Eliminate Stressors and Seek Help If You’re Depressed

    Anything that causes you major stress, like anger or anxiety, will in time begin to eat away the parts of your brain that are responsible for memory. Amongst the most brain-damaging stressors is depression, which is actually often misdiagnosed a a memory problem since one of its primary symptoms is the inability to concentrate.

    If you can’t concentrate, then you might feel like you are constantly forgetting things. Depression increases the levels of cortisol in your bloodstream which elevates the cortisol levels in the brain. Doctors have found that increased cortisol diminishes certain areas of the brain, especially the hippocampus which is where short-term memories are stored.

    Prolonged depression can thus destroy your brain’s ability to remember anything new. Seek professional help to combat your depression – your brain will thank you.

    3. Get a Good Night’s Sleep and Take Naps

    Getting a consistent 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night will increase your memory. During sleep, the brain firms up memories of recently acquired information.

    Getting enough sleep will help you get through the full spectrum of nocturnal cycles that are essential to optimal brain and body functioning during the waking hours. Taking a nap throughout the day, especially after learning something new, can also help you to retain those memories as well as recharge your brain and keep it sharper longer.

    4. Feed Your Brain

    Fifty to sixty percent of the brain’s overall weight is pure fat, which is used to insulate its billions of nerve cells. The better insulated a cell is, the faster it can send messages and the quicker you will be thinking.

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    This is precisely why parents are advised to feed their young children whole milk and to restrict dieting – their brains’ need fat to grow and work properly. Skimping on fats can be devastating even to the adult brain.

    Thus, eating foods that contain a healthy mix of fats is vital for long-term memory. Some excellent food choices include fish (especially anchovies, mackerel and wild salmon) and dark leafy green vegetables. Here’re more brain food choices: 12 Foods that Can Improve Your Brain Power

    Deep-fried foods obviously contain fat but their lack of nutritional value is not going to help your brain or your body, so think healthy foods and fats.

    5. Eat Breakfast and Make Sure It Includes an Egg

    According to Larry McCleary, M.D., author of  The Brain Trust Program, an egg is the ideal breakfast. Eggs contain B vitamins which help nerve cells to burn glucose, antioxidants that protect neurons against damage; and omega-3 fatty acids that keep nerve cells firing at optimal speed.

    Other foods to add to your breakfast include fruits, veggies and lean proteins. Avoid trans fats and high fructose corn syrup. Trans fats diminish the brain cells’ ability to communicate with each other and HFCS can actually shrink the brain by damaging cells.

    Having a healthy breakfast in the morning has been shown to improve performance throughout the day. If you’re too busy to have a healthy breakfast, this maybe just right for you: 33 Quick And Healthy Breakfasts For Busy Mornings

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    6. Write it Down

    If there’s something you want to remember, writing it down can help.

    It may sound like a no-brainer, but do you really know why? Writing it down creates oxygenated blood flow to areas of your brain that a responsible for your memories and literally exercises those parts of it. Here’s How Writing Things Down Can Change Your Life.

    You can start a journal, write yourself emails or even start keeping a blog – all of these activities will help to improve your capacity to remember and memorize information.

    7. Listen to Music

    Research shows that certain types of music are very helpful in recalling memories. Information that is learned while listening to a particular song or collection can often be recalled by thinking of the song or “playing” it mentally. Songs and music can serve as cues for pulling up particular memories.

    8. Visual Concepts

    In order to remember things, many people need to visualize the information they are studying.

    Pay attention to photographers, charts and other graphics that might appear in your textbook; or if you’re not studying a book, try to pull up a mental image of what it is you are trying to remember. It might also help to draw your own charts or figures, or utilize colors and highlighters to group related ideas in your notes.

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    Here, you can learn How to Become a Person Who Can Visualize Results.

    9. Teach Someone Else

    Reading material out loud has been shown to significantly improve memory of the material. Expanding further upon this idea is the fact that psychologists and educators have found that by having students teach new concepts to others, it helps to enhance understanding and recall.

    Teach new concepts and information to a friend or study partner, and you’ll find you remember the information a lot better.

    10. Do Crossword Puzzles, Read or Play Cards

    Studies have shown that doing crossword puzzles, read or play cards on a daily basis not only keep your brain active but also help to delay memory loss, especially in those who develop dementia.

    So pick up the daily newspaper and work on that crossword puzzle, read a book or enjoy a game of solitaire.

    Pick one to two of these tips first and start applying them to your everyday life. Very soon you’ll find yourself having better memories and a clearer head!

    More About Boosting Memory

    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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