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Published on September 28, 2018

Stock up on These 9 Healthy Snack Foods to Boost Your Brainpower

Stock up on These 9 Healthy Snack Foods to Boost Your Brainpower

Brain food is food that is beneficial to the brain. Like our skin and our stomachs, certain foods contribute to the nourishment and treating of these areas of the body. The brain also needs certain foods to help boost its power so that we are functioning at our best daily. We should be stocking up on brain food!

The brain, the complex machine that controls our entire being, is actually easy to feed and nourish. Certain foods feed us nutrients and provide benefits that many of us are unaware of. For instance, Barbara Shukitt- Hale, USDA Nutrition Research Facility at Tufts University states the following about the nutrients we consume:

“Plants have developed mechanisms to deal with stresses in the environment. Because of sunlight, smog, and temperature they have developed antioxidant or anti- inflammatory capabilities. When we ingest them they are protective in our bodies as well.”

In this article, we’ll talk about the importance of healthy brain foods and will recommend to you the best 9 healthy snack foods to boost your brainpower!

The Importance of Brain Food and How it Helps The Brain

Our brains control everything that we do. Certain chemicals impact the way it works in good and bad ways. Brian food helps increase your intellectual power! According to an article published by Fernando Gomez- Pinilla, Departments of Neurosurgery and Physiological Science at UCLA:[1]

“Research over the past 5 years has provided exciting evidence for the influence of dietary factors on specific molecular systems and mechanisms that maintain mental function. For instance, a diet that is rich in omega-3 fatty acids is garnering appreciation for supporting cognitive processes in humans and upregulating genes that are important for maintaining synaptic function and plasticity in rodents.”

The classical saying “you are what you eat” holds a lot of value and truth as proven by research. Here’s some insight:

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  • Amino Acids are derived from protein and help support and connect your neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters help keep the brain sharp — dopamine for nervous system function, serotonin for mood, memory, and learning, norepinephrine for alertness and concentration, and acetylcholine for storage and recollection of memory.
  • Glucose is what gives the brain energy. Brains get almost all of their energy from glucose.
  • Fatty Acids such as polyunsaturated, omega-3, and omega 6 help strengthen nerve cells which help strengthen memory.
  • Antioxidants inhibit oxidization. Antioxidants remove damaging oxidizing agents in living organism.

Lack of Brain Food and Its Effect on The Brain

I discussed the great impacts of brain food consumption for the brain. Lack of brain food will have a reverse impact. Lack of brain food can cause memory, cognitive, blood sugar imbalance, brain fog, nutrient deficiencies, and mood difficulty.

    Serotonin, the neurotransmitter that regulates sleep, appetite, and mood is produced in the gastrointestinal tract (the digestive track that takes food, digests, extracts, and absorbs the energy and nutrients from food consumption).

    Simply put, proper brain food is essential to your everyday health. Brain food is essential for a healthy digestive tract which is needed for healthy serotonin levels. Healthy serotonin levels are essential for healthy sleep, appetite, and mood.

    Other physical difficulties can result from lack of brain foods: blood pressure, increased acuteness, and irritability to name a few.

    Brain food is essential to our lives because they feed the machine that keep us going. Lack of brain food means lack of proper care for ourselves.

    What Foods Harm The Brain?

    It’s no secret that certain types of foods are bad for us in multiple ways. Healthy brain food consumption can be looked at and handled just like consuming food for weight loss. There are some foods that feed your entire being for overall health and many that you should stay away from in high quantities because they negatively impact your entire being, here are a few:

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    • Sugary foods and beverages– higher sugar levels in the blood can increase the risk of dementia.
    • Trans and saturated fat– this one has been a known fact for weight; however, linked to the brain, observational studies have found an association between saturated fat intake and the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
    • Refined Carbohydrates– this also includes sugar. Please note that refined carbs turn into sugar. This means that they turn into high glycemic food. Foods high in GL (glycemic load) have been found to impair brain function.
    • Aspartame– “but I’ve been told it’s a sweetener, a sugar substitute, and better than consuming sugar”. Aspartame is used as a sugar substitute more so for weight loss because it has 0 calories. It may be effective for weight loss; however, it is a food that can be harmful to the brain. Aspartame is a product made up of phenylalanine, methanol, and aspartic acid.[2]
    • Phenylalanine– can cross the blood-brain barrier and might disrupt the production of neurotransmitters- serotonin.[3]
    • Methanol– can cause metabolic acidosis causing central nervous system disturbances.[4]
    • Processed foods– generally the foods found in the middle of the grocery store, these foods tend to be high in fats, sugar, and salt. Not only do these foods cause weight gain, that gain is harmful to the brain.

    A study of 243 people found increased fat around the organs, or visceral fat, to be associated with brain tissue damage.[5][6]

    9 Healthy Foods to Boost Your Brainpower

    1. Avocado

    These amazing, green, circles/ovals of joy are packed with nutrients! If you like guacamole, then you like avocadoes! Avocado is a fruit consisting of healthy carbs, fat, and vitamins:

    • Vitamin K– synthesizes certain proteins that are prerequisites for blood coagulation.
    • Folate– one of the B-vitamins that is needed to make red and white blood cells in bone marrow, convert carbs to energy, and produce DNA.
    • Vitamin C– cannot be produced in the body therefore awareness on consumption is essential. Vitamin C is a necessary antioxidant for strengthening the body’s natural defenses, also known as immune system.
    • Potassium– a mineral and electrolyte, that produces electrical impulses around the body and assist with: blood pressure, muscle contractions, nerve impulses, digestion, and heart rhythm.
    • Vitamin B5– essential for the production of energy and breaking down fats and carbohydrates.
    • Vitamin B6– necessary for normal brain development and for keeping the nervous and immune system healthy.
    • Vitamin E– dissolves fat and supports vision, reproduction, and healthy blood, brain, and skin.

    2. Walnuts

    Understandably, those with nut allergies cannot consume walnuts.

    For those that can, walnuts provide amazing benefits, like having twice as many antioxidants than almonds and peanuts. These small nuts are packed with DHA (omega’s), protein and minerals.

    3. Spinach

    A study conducted by Rush University showed that people that 1-2 servings of greens, like spinach, for 5 years, had the cognitive abilities of someone 11 years younger.

    Spinach is loaded with vitamin K, folate, beta carotene (an antioxidant), and lutein (an antioxidant).

    4. Dark Chocolate

    This is a win. chocolate for brain food!

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    Chocolate has high levels of flavanols. Dr. Bret S. Stetka, MD, states the following about flavanols:

    “These abundant phenolic plant compounds have marked antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and are thought to be responsible for much of the health benefit ascribed to chocolate consumption”.

    Studies like the Swedish Mammography Cohort study found the following results:

    Increasing chocolate consumption by 50 g per week reduced

    • Cerebral infarction risk by 12%
    • Hemorrhagic stroke risk by 27%,
    • Total stroke risk by 14%

    5. Green Tea

    Green tea is known to be a powerful antioxidant beverage that helps improve brain function, contributes to fat loss, and reduces risk of cancer.

    Additionally, loaded with L-theanine (an amino acid), it increases dopamine.

    6. Kale

    Kale has so much of what we need in one bunch. Loaded with iron, folate, vitamin B6, and protein, it has everything that the brain needs to produce serotonin and dopamine.

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    7. Tomatoes

    Tomatoes are packed with antioxidants; however, have an added benefit- lycopene. Lycopene regulates the genes in the brain that influence inflammation and contribute to brain growth.

    8. Sage

    Besides adding amazing flavor, sage is makes for great brain food. It’s an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. Not only is it used for pain relief, but it also contributes to the enhancement of memory and cognitive abilities.

    9. Chia

    A little seed packed with huge benefits. Chia seeds are rich in DHA (omega)and a complete protein.

    This means that they carry 9 of the essential amino acids necessary to keep moods sable and brains functioning at their best.

    Conclusion

    Eating mindfully is essential for our well beings. Our brain control everything. We feed it knowledge, we also need to feed it proper nutrients. Stock up on these brain foods to keep that machine running at its best!

    Featured photo credit: Mohammad Jafar Mansuri via unsplash.com

    Reference

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    Veronica Castillo

    ADA Human Resources Specialist/ P & C Insurance Guru/ Plant based Cook/ Weight Loss Success Story

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    Last Updated on October 18, 2018

    10 Benefits of Sleeping Naked You Probably Didn’t Know

    10 Benefits of Sleeping Naked You Probably Didn’t Know

    Sleeping is one of the most important things we do every night.

    Getting the right amount of sleep has an untold number of health benefits and not getting enough sleep is a serious problem in many countries around the world.

    So you should have heard of the many benefits of getting adequate sleep, but did you know that you can get additional benefits by sleeping naked?

    Here are some benefits of sleeping in the nude:

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    Video Summary

    1. It is easier.

    When you don’t have to worry about sleeping in clothes, things start to get easier. You don’t have to buy pajamas, which can save you money. You have less clothes to wash and less clothes to put away. You may have to clean your bed sheets more often, but not nearly as often as you’d have to wash your pajamas when you run out.

    2. It forces you to be ready to go more often.

    Some people get off of work, change into their pajamas, and use this as an excuse to stay home the rest of the evening. This can lead to a more sedentary lifestyle, which has been attributed to things like weight gain.[1] When you keep your regular clothes on, you tend to go out more often and that’s a good thing.

    3. It can make you feel happier and more free.

    Just imagine the feeling of laying in bed naked. You’re free of your pants and underwear. Women, you’re not wearing a constrictive bra. It’s just you sandwiched between two cool sheets. The feeling just makes you want to smile and it makes you feel more free. Everyone can use that kind of good feeling every now and then, and it may even help you be happier as a person.

    4. Skin-on-skin contact is the best.

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      If you’re married, or living with your significant other, sleeping naked gives a greater chance of skin-on-skin contact, especially when it comes to cuddling. This kind of contact can also lead to a more active sex life. All of this releases copious amounts of oxytocin, which is the neurotransmitter that helps you feel those good feelings about your significant other.[2]

      5. It could lead to better sleep.

      Let’s revisit the scenario I described above. There are no drawstrings or clothes getting tangled in sheets. You don’t have to worry about shirts getting twisted. All of these distractions go away when you sleep naked and it may help you get better, deeper sleep. You don’t need science to tell you that better, deeper sleep only helps you be healthier.

      6. It can help your skin.

      For once your body gets to breathe. Your private parts, armpits, and feet are generally restricted all day and are often covered by multiple layers, even in the summer time. Give those parts a chance to air out and breathe. This can lower the risk of skin diseases, like athlete’s foot, that result from wet, restricted skin.[3]

      7. It helps you regulate your cortisol.

      Cortisol is a very strange chemical in the body but it can do a lot of damage. When you sleep naked, it helps keep your body temperature at the optimal ranges so your body can better create cortisol. If you sleep overheated your cortisol levels tend to stay high, even after you wake up. This can lead to increased anxiety, cravings for bad food, weight gain, and more terrible things.[4] Sleep naked so you can keep your body temperature down and sleep well so your body can properly produce and regulate cortisol.

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      8. It balances your melatonin and growth hormone.

      Continuing along that same vein, keeping your sleeping environment below 70 degrees (F) every night can help your body regulate its melatonin and growth hormone levels. These chemicals help the body do things like prevent aging and are essential to good health. When you sleep in clothes, your body heats up and prevents effective use of these hormones. In other words, sleeping with clothes on makes you grow old faster.

      9. It can keep your sex organs happier.

      For men, the cooler sleeping conditions allows your testes to remain at a cooler temperature. This helps keep your sperm healthy and your reproductive systems functioning as normal. For women, the cooler and more airy sleeping conditions can actually help prevent yeast infections. Yeast grows better in warm, moist conditions.[5] When it’s cooler and dryer, the growth of yeast is prevented.

      10. Sleeping in the summer is more bearable.

        Summertime is a tricky time to get good sleep. If you don’t have air conditioning, then you may find your bedroom a bit stuffy at night.

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        Shedding those bedtime clothes can help the bedroom feel more comfortable. You may even be able to turn the A/C off on those cooler nights, which can save you a few bucks on your electricity bill.

        Don’t wake up drenched in sweat again because your thermostat is downstairs and the hot air expands up to your bedroom where the thermostat can’t read the warm temperatures.

        Sleep well with your naked body!

        With these tips in mind, it’s time to start taking off your clothes at night!

        Of course, there are times where clothes are preferable. If you are ill or it’s cold outside, then you should sleep with clothes on to help you stay warm and prevent further illness. Otherwise, go commando!

        If you’re looking for more tips to sleep well and get up feeling energetic, I recommend you to check out this guide:

        Want to Feel More Energized Throughout the Day? Start With This

        Reference

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