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You Are What You Eat, So Eat These Foods for Optimal Health

You Are What You Eat, So Eat These Foods for Optimal Health

You’ve probably heard the infamous saying:

“You are what you eat.”

Essentially, this means that the foods and drinks you put in your body have a direct effect on your health and well-being. If you nourish your body with the right ‘fuel’, it will perform better. If you eat a lot of junk food and drink a lot of soda, your health will suffer.

That will not come as a shock to anyone.

But what may come as a shock is just how much of an impact the foods you eat can have on your health and happiness. So let’s explore this a bit further.

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You Are What You Eat: What the Research Says

A published in the journal Cell found that what you eat can have “major effects” on your body composition and physiology. Researchers conducted genetic tests using roundworms and found that various diets produced dramatically different results in gene expression. The researchers believe this evidence has serious implications for humans. One of the study authors, Albertha J.M. Walhout, PhD, stated that:

“A small amount of a ‘healthy’ food in an otherwise unhealthy diet could elicit a beneficial change in gene expression that could have profound physiological effects.”

How to Eat the Healthy Way

If you are what you eat, which would you rather be:

a) A highly processed, edible food-like substance comprised of 20+ chemicals?

b) A vegetable?

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The answer is quite obvious: a plant-heavy diet consisting of real, whole foods close to nature has a number of health benefits. According to the Centers for Disease Control, eating a diet high in fruits and vegetables helps lower your risk of several types of chronic diseases, including cancer and cardiovascular disease.

On the flip side, processed foods can be detrimental to your health. Trans fat, an ingredient commonly found in packaged processed foods to help make them more shelf-stable, has been directly associated with an increase in heart disease, and ultimately, death. And if you’re constantly loading up on fast food and restaurant meals, your health will suffer the consequences. What you eat has a direct correlation to how you look, feel, and sleep.

What Should You Eat?

The cool part is, it’s really not that hard to make a few changes and take control of your health.

Here are the foods you should be eating more of:

  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Whole grains

And if you’re a carnivore, eat lean sources of protein like fish, chicken, and turkey.

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The key is to start small: try eating one or two more servings of vegetables than you normally do this week. Eat a handful of nuts as a snack instead of potato chips. Cook yourself a healthy breakfast, lunch, or dinner instead of going out to eat. Here are some healthy recipes to get your started:

What a Day of Healthy Eating Looks Like

Breakfast:

3 scrambled egg whites with green onion, tomatoes, and mozzarella cheese

1 piece of fruit

1 glass of water

Lunch:

Turkey sandwich with lettuce, tomato, and mustard on whole wheat or whole grain bread or pita

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2 cups romaine lettuce with olive oil and red wine vinegar

Snack:

1 cup of baby carrots with 3 tablespoons of hummus

Dinner:

Grilled salmon with olive oil and fresh herbs (like oregano, thyme, rosemary, parsley, basil)

1 sweet potato with salt and pepper

1 cup steamed broccoli with lemon juice

Dessert:

Strawberries and raspberries with Greek yogurt

So there you have it. Remember, you are what you eat. So fuel your body with the right foods, and it will reward you for making healthy choices. Healthy food leads to a healthy body, which, in turn, increases your odds of a longer, happier life.

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12 Best Brain Foods that Improve Memory

12 Best Brain Foods that Improve Memory

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:

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.

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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.

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.

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

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!

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

Reference

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