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10 Brain Boosting Foods You Should Be Eating

10 Brain Boosting Foods You Should Be Eating

“Food for thought” usually refers to ideas or interesting tidbits of information that your mind can metaphorically “feed” on. However, this phrase has literal value as well. There are certain foods that boost your brainpower and enhance cognitive function. Here are 10 brain-boosting foods you should be eating:

1. Blueberries

Referred to as “brainberries” by Dr. Steven Pratt, author of Superfoods Rx: Fourteen Foods Proven to Change Your Life, blueberries are perhaps one of the most beneficial brain foods. Rich in antioxidants, they protect your brain from damaging oxidative stress caused by accumulated free radicals in the body. In the industrial world that we live in, the amounts of these harmful species are increasing in our bodies to levels that actually harm cells and neurons, damage which is prevented by antioxidants. Blueberries enhance memory and improve learning abilities. Studies suggest they may even reduce age-related decline and prevent the onset of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s. A cup a day in any form will do the trick.

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2. Avocados

The monounsaturated fats in avocados promote blood flow and reduce blood pressure, which benefits all organs, including the brain. High in calories, a quarter to a half an avocado a day is sufficient.

3. Wild salmon

Salmon is rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, which maintain brain cell health and act as anti-inflammatories. Our bodies are unable to manufacture the amounts of fatty acids that we need, so an external source is required. The fatty acids in salmon support heart, brain and eye health throughout life, and fight age-related cognitive disorders. Farmed salmon doesn’t contain the same levels of fatty acids as ocean fish, so if given the choice, wild salmon is better. A four ounce serving two to three times a week is recommended.

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4. Olive oil

Olive oil is a great source of Omega-3 fatty acids as well as antioxidants, which, as discussed above, protects the brain against oxidative stress. It has also been linked to improved learning and memory. One to two tablespoons a day sprinkled on salads or use for cooking is a good amount.

5. Flax seeds

Flax seeds are rich in fatty-acids, which are essential to brain health, enhancing memory and reducing age-related decline. A tablespoon or two a day will do it, added in smoothies or in a salad.

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6. Broccoli

Broccoli is an excellent source of choline, which has been known to improve memory and decrease age-related mental decline. It is also rich in vitamin K, which can increase the speed of brain functions and improve memory abilities. Broccoli can prevent against the harmful oxidative distress discussed above. Two cups about four to five times a week is optimum for brain health.

7. Eggs

Egg yolks are one of the best sources of choline, which, as discussed before, can improve memory and reduce age-related decline. It can also improve communication between brain cells. An egg a day is the recommended amount.

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8. Nuts

Containing high levels of healthy fats, nuts can increase mental clarity, memory and have been shown to reverse brain aging in older rats. They contain high levels of vitamin E, which prevents cognitive decline. Considering their brain-like shape, it’s suitable that walnuts are perhaps the best nut to eat for brain health. They can enhance mood, reduce mental decline and improve cardiac health. An ounce of nuts a day is enough to do the trick.

9. Chickpeas

Rich in magnesium, chickpeas promote faster transmission of messages between neurons. They relax the blood vessels, which promotes blood flow, and increase serotonin levels in the brain, which leads to a better mood. Start eating hummus more often and perhaps try a chickpea salad a few times a week.

10. Dark chocolate

Perhaps the tastiest of the brain boosting foods, dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants and protects the brain against oxidative stress from free radicals. It contains endorphins which can improve mood. An ounce a day is the recommended amount.

Featured photo credit: Jeff Kubina via flickr.com

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Leanne Louie

Leanne is a passionate writer who shares lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on November 20, 2020

Kickstart Your Morning Workout With These 10 Simple Habits

Kickstart Your Morning Workout With These 10 Simple Habits

Benjamin Franklin said it like this: “Early to bed, early to rise, will make a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.” He knew from his own experiences and watching others that the ones who got up early were healthier and more successful. That’s why a morning workout can be so important.

One 2017 study found that:[1]

“after controlling for such factors as age, sex, smoking habits, and others…night owls, were found to have a 10 percent greater risk of dying from any cause compared to morning types.”

This is a great reason to tap into some morning motivation and get your morning workout done.

Circadian Rhythm for morning workout

    As you can see in the above graph, your blood pressure begins to rise between 6 and 7 in the morning[2]. That means this is a great time to get your body moving and your heart pumping, even if it’s just for 20 minutes of exercise in the morning. 

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    Here are some tips on how to find the motivation for a morning workout.

    1. Remember Your Why

    It starts with remembering why you want to get up for a morning workout. If you don’t set a goal and establish your reasons for accomplishing a health and fitness goal, then you definitely won’t get up early.

    Getting up early isn’t easy. If it were, everyone would do it, right? Your goal for your health and fitness must be so strong, and the WHY behind it must be so powerful, that nothing will stop you from accomplishing that goal.

    2. Go to Bed Early

    If you want to get up early for a morning workout, it’s going to be important to get to bed earlier. Falling asleep at midnight and trying to get up at six just won’t work in your favor.

    This will likely be very difficult for a few days while you adjust your sleeping habits. However, as you get into an exercise routine in the morning, this will naturally make it easier to fall asleep earlier and faster at night.

    3. Make a Commitment

    I sometimes tell my Facebook community of my plans to work out, and we all keep each other motivated by posting our runs, our workouts, etc. This is a way to develop accountability. By publicly announcing your intentions, you increase your chances of actually carrying out your plans.

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    Another way to do this is to find an accountability partner who has similar goals for morning workouts. You can check in with each other to make sure you’re sticking to your plans. If that doesn’t work, hire a personal trainer for a few weeks to get you started.  

    You can learn how to find a good accountability partner here.

    4. Find a Friend

    If you can find a friend that is motivated like you are, and you can hold each other accountable daily to working out, then you will accomplish your fitness goals. Many people prefer working out with friends to working out alone. Whether it’s a chat while hitting the treadmill at the gym, or having someone to spot you while weightlifting, working out with friends is sometimes just more enjoyable.

    Texting each other the night before with a simple statement is best. Don’t ask: “Are we still working out in the morning?” With this kind of question, if they were thinking about not working out, you just gave them an opt out.

    Make a statement instead: “Can’t wait to see you in the morning!” This implies that they will be there, and they will feel more obligated to show up.

    5. Treat Yourself

    We all have to treat ourselves every now and then. After a morning workout, plan to treat yourself with a colorful, healthy breakfast or a delicious morning smoothie. This will help you look forward to something and push through to the end of your workout.

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    You can learn more on rewards and punishments here.

    6. Change your Mindset

    Many people throw away the idea of a morning workout by simply saying, “I’m not a morning person.”  Instead of using this excuse, decide to try to become a morning person by shifting your mindset.

    When you look into the benefits of waking up early and getting some exercise in before your day starts, you’ll feel more positive about your life overall.

    7. Plan Your Day

    You know you’re going to be busy. Try time blocking to plan all the things you need to do on a given day, and make sure you add in your morning workout[3]. If you have a plan laid out, you’ll be more likely to follow it and get done everything on your list done.

    Time blocking

      8. Reflect on How You’ll Feel After

      Starting a morning workout is hard, but visualizing how you’ll feel after can help you find motivation. Think about the extra energy you’ll have and how proud you’ll feel knowing that you were already so productive. No matter what you do the rest of the day, at least you squeezed in your exercise!

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      For me, I live in an area where there are a lot of runners. When I am heading home in the evening or sitting out on the patio at one of my favorite restaurants, and I see the runners go by, it makes me feel so accomplished that I got mine in that morning and I can enjoy the evening.

      9. Lay out Your Workout Clothes

      Setting out your workout clothes the night before makes it impossible for you to start to run late because you couldn’t find something to wear. Tap into the determination you have before bed in order to convince your less-than-motivated morning self that you need to get up and get your morning workout in. When you wake up and see your outfit laid out next to you, it’ll push you to get up and get moving.

      10.  Set Multiple Alarms

      Many people miss their morning workout simply because they hit the snooze button so many times. In order to make this more difficult for yourself, set a series of alarms. That way, if you keep hitting snooze, you’ll have three or four alarms going off every ten minutes, which will be annoying enough to get you out of bed.

      Also, put one alarm at least a few feet from your bed so that you’re forced to get up to turn it off.

      Final Thoughts

      About three years ago I went from being the person that says I will never be an early riser to a person that loves to get the day started as soon as possible. Without the distractions that begin to come around 8 or 9 in the morning, you’ll find that you’re more productive and more likely to squeeze in that morning workout.

      Take some of the actions above and find the best morning workout routine to start your day and feel good.

      More Tips on Morning Exercises

      Featured photo credit: Tomasz Woźniak via unsplash.com

      Reference

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