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3 Tasty Foods That Protect The Brain From Ageing

Some foods can keep your brain young.

Blackberries, blueberries and strawberries all reduce cognitive decline related to age, research finds.

All three fruits contain high levels of flavonoids.

Flavonoids are powerful antioxidants that can also help reduce inflammation in the brain and body.

The research was carried out on data from 121,700 women, who were followed up over decades.

Dr Elizabeth Devore, the study’s first author, said:

“As the U.S. population ages, understanding the health issues facing this group becomes increasingly important.
Our study examined whether greater intake of berries could slow rates of cognitive decline.”

The results showed that high berry intake was linked to a delay in cognitive ageing equivalent to 2.5 years.

In other words: berries made their brains work as though they were 2.5 years younger.

Dr Devore said:

“We provide the first epidemiologic evidence that berries may slow progression of cognitive decline in elderly women.
Our findings have significant public health implications as increasing berry intake is a fairly simple dietary modification to test cognition protection in older adults.”

Berries are also one of the central components in the ‘MIND’ diet, which is linked to a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

Blueberries in particular seem to have a powerful effect on the brain.

One recent study looked at the effects of concentrated blueberry juice:

“Concentrated blueberry juice improves cognitive function in older people, new research finds.
Those who drank the juice also had better blood flow and activation in their brains as well as improvements to working memory.
The boost to brain power is likely down to the flavonoids in blueberries.”

Strawberries also have other research backing up their protective effects, as do walnuts.

The study was published in the journal Annals of Neurology (Devore et al., 2012).

source: PsyBlog


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7 Foods That May Help Lengthen Your Lifespan

If we want to live longer, healthier lives where our risk of suffering from major illnesses and health conditions is minimized, cleaning up our diets is a must. According to WebMD, the amount of research we now have access to is proving that there could be such a thing as a “longevity diet.”

Most people grasp the general understanding of what a healthy diet looks like. We know it’s all about fruits, vegetables, whole grains, good fats and lean sources of protein while keeping processed foods at a minimum. But are there any specific foods we should be focusing on adding to our diet that contribute to longevity?

Well, we’d have to look at the research. Here are some healthy foods that might as well be a part of a “longevity diet” based on how they’ve been shown to impact people’s health and wellbeing.

1. Walnuts

In one study, people who ate more than three servings of nuts per week — especially walnuts — had a reduced risk of dying from from cardiovascular disease or cancer when compared to those who didn’t consume nuts. More recent research also shows that walnuts may actually alter gut bacteria in a way that reduces colon tumor development from colon cancer, which is the third most prevalent cancer type in the world.

2. Seafood and Plant-Based Sources of Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are well known for helping heart health and potentially preventing age-related cognitive decline. A 2010 study found that heart patients with an increased intake of omega-3s also possessed longer stretches of DNA called telemores, which is linked to longer lifespans. Good sources of seafood-based omega-3s (DHA and EPA) include wild Pacific salmon, anchovies, herring, mackerel, lake trout and some other types of cold water fish. A couple of your best sources of plant-based omega-3s (ALA) include flaxseed and chia seeds.

3. Coffee

There’s been a lot of research on coffee, and it seems as if the findings have been all over the place. While it may offer a lot of benefits, it may also have some drawbacks, too. At least one study that examined coffee consumption among nearly 75,000 adult women found that higher consumption of coffee (both caffeinated and decaffeinated) was linked to a lower risk of death.

bread

4. Whole Grains

Whole grains may not have much of a place in a low-carb or paleo diet, but it’s an essential part of the Mediterranean diet — a diet that has been associated with lower risks of heart disease, lower levels of bad cholesterol and an overall lower risk of death. Based on recent research, the American Heart Association says that three servings of whole grains per day can help people lower their risk of death by nearly 20 percent compared to those who eat fewer or no whole grains at all.

5. Dark Chocolate

Chocolate is healthy as long as it’s dark (ideally 70 percent or more) and consumed in moderation. Researchers have found that this sweet treat helps lower blood pressure and prevent heart disease. In a study that observed the health habits of nearly 21,000 British people for over a decade, only 12 percent of those who consumed dark chocolate died of cardiovascular disease compared to 17.4 percent of those who did not consume chocolate.

6. Blueberries

Many berries lend themselves to promoting good health, but some like blueberries (and also strawberries), are significantly powerful for being rich in chemical compounds called anthocyanins. They help lower blood pressure and promote elasticity in the blood vessels. Data taken over an 18-year period from almost 94,000 young women showed that those who ate the most berries experienced a reduced risk of suffering a heart attack by 34 percent compared to those who ate the fewest berries.

7. Leafy Greens

We all know that making vegetables a part of every meal, every day is one of the healthiest things you can do for your diet. Leafy greens may be ultra low in calories, but there’s been some research to say that they may help prevent dementia. For the study, eating habits and cognitive function of 950 older adults were tracked for about five years, with results showing that those who ate 1 to 2 daily servings of leafy greens experienced a decreased rate of cognitive decline compared to those who ate no leafy greens.

Now you know what to put on your grocery list the next time you head out to the store or to your local farmers’ market. And if you already eat some of the above mentioned “longevity” foods, then keep it up! Your future self will thank you for it.

By: Elise Moreau     July 4, 2016     Follow Elise at @elisem0reau
 


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Top Cancer Fighting Foods

‘Let Food Be Thy Medicine’!  Use Food to Aid in Your Cancer Fight!

Health Science & Tech   Apr 2, 2016

The moment you receive a cancer diagnosis, your doctor will probably go through a list of your treatment options and what he or she will do in your particular case.  Many people have similar conversations with family, friends, and co-workers about the future and what help you’ll need in your personal and professional life.

Now an important question.  What can you do to help yourself?

It may be tempting, even easy, to give up control of your life until you’re better.  That’s a mistake.  This is your disease now.  It’s your body, your choice and your responsibility.  Let the experts do their job (and ask lots of questions) but remember to keep actively working toward your own recovery.

Chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery deplete your mind, body, and spirit.  Any person who has dealt with cancer personally or in regards to someone they love can attest to the turmoil the disease causes in so many areas.  It is easy to become lost in feelings of helplessness and worry.

Diet is a simple yet crucial aspect of your life that you can control.  It’s critical to pay close attention to the food you consume during treatment.

Enlist Food in the Cancer Fight

Internally you’re waging a war and you need to feed yourself foods that support your fight that might even boost the effectiveness of standard cancer therapies.

Many doctors turn up their collective noses at the use of superfoods during treatment and recovery.  They may attempt to mock your questions and some may threaten that healthy, whole foods are detrimental to cancer drug efficacy.

Cancer-fighting foods contain a wealth of powerful antioxidants.  They fight free radicals in your system, slowing and even stopping molecules that cause cellular damage.  Since cancer is the result of damaged or mutated cells, it makes sense that you don’t need more!

Oncologists imply that antioxidants interfere with the drugs administered during chemotherapy and/or radiation treatments by neutralizing them.  However, patients undergoing these treatments are commonly prescribed amifostine and dexrazoxane – both incredibly powerful antioxidants.

This represents the primary division between the “traditionalists” who wish to stick with business as usual from those seeking to “compliment” cancer treatments by boosting your body’s ability to help itself.

In studies begun in the 1970s, patients consumed antioxidant-rich foods during their cancer treatments while researchers logged the results.  The outcome proved – as it has time and time again – that antioxidants do not interfere with drug therapy effectiveness.  In fact, in many cases, these cancer-fighting foods enhance the power of the drugs for better results for the patient!

Follow up studies found that the patients who maintained these healthier eating regimens after treatment had higher survival rates.  Though the American Cancer Society corroborated these findings, they continue to downplay the importance of food in aiding the fight.

Obviously, choosing a healthy diet is a good idea for everyone.  It is especially critical for cancer patients.  If chemotherapy, radiation, or surgery are part of your treatment protocol, your body will be fighting the disease as well as the results of the treatment.

Your body needs all the help it can get!  Patients will feel proactive in their own case, try new foods and recipes, and give their bodies a little something extra during their treatment.  One of the biggest issues after cancer therapy is that your immune system is ravaged.  It can take years to rebuild it and for some, it may never return to pre-cancer strength.

Food is such a simple addition.  It does help protect you from many of the side effects and might protect some of your cells from destruction by chemo or radiation.  Here at The Truth About Cancer, we talk a lot about using food to ease symptoms, protect your healthy cells, and even give your body antibodies to prevent cancer in the first place.

letthyfood

Five Cancer-Fighting Foods

Fatty Fish

Fish oils contain long chain omega-3 fatty acids.  These healthy fats are a potent anti-inflammatory and protect the body from negative hormones produced during treatment that inflame and irritate.  Oily fish like mackerel, wild salmon, tuna, sardines, and herring also contain vitamins A and D – known to be forceful fighters in the battle against cancer.

Nuts and Seeds

Nuts like walnuts, Brazil nuts and almonds contain selenium, a strong anti-cancer compound.  Pumpkin and sunflower seeds are packed with zinc and vitamin E.  The vitamin E provides your immune system with a huge boost and zinc aids in the absorption of vitamin C.

Red and Yellow Peppers

Red and yellow peppers are packed with vitamin C.  This influential antioxidant strengthens your immune system and neutralizes toxins.  Peppers contain even more vitamin C than is commonly found in oranges.  They also contain carotenoids that convert to vitamin A.  Other sources of these are carrots, sweet potatoes, and dried apricots.

Mushrooms

Chinese medicine has used medicinal mushrooms for hundreds of years as blood purifiers, immune system balancers, and to aid in the performance of internal organs.  Shiitake, Miatake, Portobello and even button mushrooms all contain natural medicines.  They’ve been shown to reduce some of the worst side effects of treatment such as hair loss and nausea.  They boost immunity, increase survival rates, and studies reported that they shrank certain cancerous tumors by as much as 70%.

Purple Foods

No one talks about purple foods and we should!  Purple eggplant, dark purple grapes, beets, blueberries, plums, and cherries all contain massive amounts of anthocyanins.  Anthocyanins have been proven in countless studies to kill cancer cells.  Other benefits include supporting internal organs and boosting immunity.  Recent studies show anthocyanins compounds are easily absorbed by the body and immediately begin defending the body against diseases that result from poor diet and negative lifestyle habits.

More Thoughts to Remember

  • Drink a cup or two of fresh brewed green tea per day (hot or iced)
  • Use good oils and fats such as butter, coconut oil, flaxseed oil, and extra-virgin olive oil
  • Limit refined sugar, grains, and flour
  • Buy organic where you can
  • Increase your consumption of probiotic foods
  • Search for more fantastic information about the cancer-fighting foods that might already be in your kitchen!

A healthy diet might seem hard to accomplish but you’ll be shocked how quickly you feel the effects on your entire body.  Enlist friends or family for suggestions on recipes or menus.  If you have a friend who loves to cook, ask for help with meals that can be made ahead of time and stock your freezer for days when you have no energy.

No matter how tempting or easy, do everything you can to stick with your new healthier, cancer-fighting food nutrition plan.

There is a Better Way

No one wants cancer and if you get it once, you never want to go through the emotional, financial, and physical trauma again.  All over the world, incredible advances are being made in the fight against cancer.  It’s strange that they don’t make big news in the United States while the rest of the world is fascinated by them.

For instance, did you know…

1-in-5 cancer deaths is due to obesity?

A compound found in eggplant cures most types of skin cancer without side effects?

There are two primary food additives that are responsible for brain damage and multiple types of cancer?  (MSG and aspartame)

Cancer is big business and we need to opt out of being part of its bottom line.  Experts estimate that more than half of the cancers diagnosed in the world are preventable.

Be in the half that beats the odds.

References:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17283738
http://www.canceractive.com/cancer-active-page-link.aspx
http://www.cancer.org/treatment/survivorshipduringandaftertreatment/nutritionforpeoplewithcancer/nutritionforthepersonwithcancer/index
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1082903/


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12 Foods to Help You Focus

by: Emily Holland

Staying focused in today’s world can be a challenge. Technology presents countless distractions. The constant ping from your smartphone—alerting you to the latest social media notification or text message—can cause even the most focused individual to become scattered.

But technology isn’t solely to blame. Stress can add to the challenge. Aging can also play a role as your ability to ignore distractions can decline as you get older.

What many people may not realize is that diet can influence their ability to focus. Certain foods provide the brain with the necessary nourishment to help you concentrate. Many people are quick to turn to coffee for a cognitive boost. However, a variety of other options can enhance your ability to focus, while also providing a wealth of other health benefits.

Walnuts

A 2015 study conducted by researchers at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA found a positive association between walnut consumption and cognitive functioning in adults, including the ability to concentrate. According to the findings published in the Journal of Nutrition, Health and Aging, consuming a handful of walnuts per day can lead to cognitive benefits, regardless of age. Walnuts, in comparison to other nuts, contain the highest-level of antioxidants, which help to promote brain function. They also contain alpha-linolenic acid, a plant-based omega-3 fatty acid that is important for brain health and development. Because walnuts are relatively high in fat and calories, no more than an ounce per day is recommended.

Blueberries

Blueberries are also high in antioxidants, particularly anthocyanin, which has been shown to fight inflammation and improve cognitive brain functions. Blueberries make for the perfect snack since they are low in calories, but high in nutrients such as fiber, manganese, vitamin K,  and vitamin C. When they aren’t in season, opt for dried or frozen blueberries.

Salmon

Salmon is full of omega-3 fatty acids, an essential fat that may slow cognitive decline and possibly lower the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, according to a 2005 study conducted by Rush University in Chicago. It also helps fight inflammation, which has been associated with a decrease in cognitive function.

Avocados

In addition to salmon, avocados are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids and also contain monounsaturated fats, which support brain function and healthy blood flow to the brain. Avocados are also high in vitamin E, a necessary nutrient for optimal brain health that may slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, studies show. Like walnuts, avocados are fatty and contain a lot of calories. The recommended serving is about 1/5 of a regular-sized avocado (or 1 oz.).

Extra-Virgin Olive Oil

Extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO) is loaded with antioxidants, which have been shown in mice to improve memory and learning deficits that occur as a result of aging and disease. EVOO can also reverse damage in the brain caused by oxidative stress, an imbalance between free radicals and the body’s antioxidant defenses, according to a 2012 study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. EVOO is great to use as a healthy alternative to processed salad dressings.

Olive oil

Pumpkin Seeds

Nutrient-rich pumpkin seeds make for a quick and easy snack while providing proper nutrition to help promote focus and concentration. High in antioxidants and omega-3s, pumpkin seeds are also a rich source of zinc, an essential mineral that promotes brain function and helps prevent neurological diseases, according to research conducted in 2001 by the University of Shizuoka in Japan.

Leafy Greens

A 2015 study by researchers at Rush University found dark, leafy greens, such as spinach, kale, and collards, might help slow cognitive decline. Over a five-year span, they examined diet and cognitive abilities in older adults. They saw a significant decrease in the rate of cognitive decline in those who consumed larger amounts of dark, leafy greens. In fact, those who had one to two daily servings were found to have the cognitive abilities of a person 11 years younger. Researchers also found that the nutrients, vitamin K and folate were most likely responsible for keeping the brain healthy and preserving functioning.

Eggs

Eggs are a good source of protein, are rich in omega-3s, and contain choline, a vital nutrient for brain development. A 2011 study published in The American Journal of Clinic Nutrition found a high-level intake of choline improved cognitive performance. Eggs also contain B12, a vitamin that keeps the brain and nervous system healthy. So beat, scramble, poach, and flip to eat those eggs and reap the rewards.

Yogurt

Yogurt contains probiotics, often referred to as the “good” bacteria that help promote digestive health, which can lead to a healthier brain. A 2013 UCLA study found that women who regularly ate yogurt exhibited improved brain function while at rest or in response to completing a task. Yogurt is also high in B12 and magnesium, two essential nutrients for brain health.

Oatmeal

Whole grains provide energy. Oatmeal—slow-cooked whole oats, not the ready-cook kind from a packet—not only makes for a healthy breakfast, it also leaves you feeling full, which is important as hunger can diminish mental focus. For maximum clarity, try a bowl of oatmeal topped with walnuts and blueberries.

Dark Chocolate

Chocolate, which is a stimulant, can provide you with an energy boost similar to a cup of coffee. A 2015 study by researchers at Northern Arizona University found participants who consumed 60 percent cacao content chocolate to be more alert and attentive. Chocolate is also high in antioxidants accounting for many of its health benefits. Just remember to choose dark chocolate over a milk chocolate candy bar filled with sugar.

Peppermint Tea

The herb peppermint may improve cognitive performance and increase alertness as well as calmness, according to a 2012 study by researchers at Northumbria University in the UK. Enjoy the health benefits by brewing a hot cup of peppermint tea or by simply smelling the herb.

Add five drops of peppermint essential oil to a warm bath or rub it lightly into your skin.

About the Author
Emily Holland
Emily is a certified Health Coach with a focus on stress and anxiety management. A combined interest in healthy living and human behavior led Emily to pursue a certification in health coaching at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition as well as a master’s degree in General Psychology. She’s a freelance writer; you can find more of her work on her website, http://www.mindfulmotives.com.


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7 Nutrients To Help Protect Your Brain From Aging

Flavanols, Fish, Nuts, And Blueberries May Help Prevent Alzheimer’s

Apr 21, 2015      By Lecia Bushak

Eating certain nutrients, like cocoa flavonals and magnesium, as well as omega-3 fatty acids, help boost your cognitive function and brainpower.

While genetics and exercise play a large role in your brain health and risk of developing dementia, diet is quite influential, too. There is no magical elixir that can cure or completely prevent dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, but scientists have been able to pinpoint certain nutrients that are associated with improved cognitive function or memory. Keeping your diet full of the foods that contain them, then, can help you protect your brain.

Cocoa Flavanols

Cocoa flavanols are found naturally in cocoa and can be beneficial to your brain health; they make dark chocolate healthier than regular chocolate, which has been washed out with milk and sugar. A 2014 study examined the impact of eating a high cocoa flavanol diet over the course of three months. The researchers focused primarily on the dentate gyrus (DG), a part of the hippocampal formation in the brain that, when it declines, is often associated with aging. Scientists believe this part of the brain is linked to memory loss. After eating a lot of cocoa flavanols, the researchers report that the participants experienced “enhanced DG function.”

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Fish that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, like salmon, mackerel, and tuna, are going to not only help your heart health, but they’ll also give you a boost in brainpower. According to a 2014 study, mice that were given supplements of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid showed improved cognitive function while they aged — showing better object recognition memory, spatial and localized memory, and aversive response retention.

nuts

Nuts

Nuts contain omega-3 fatty acids like fish, so adding nuts to your diet in addition to fish will provide you with solid amounts. Walnuts, in particular, have been shown to fight memory loss. In one recent large-scale analysis, researchers found that a diet supplemented with walnuts — which are high in omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin E, folate, antioxidants, and melatonin — improved adults’ performances on a series of six cognitive tests.

Magnesium

Scientists believe that a magnesium deficiency may play a role in cognitive decline, brain aging, and ultimately, dementia. So taking magnesium supplements — or eating foods that contain magnesium, like chard, spinach, pumpkin seeds, yogurt, almonds, black beans, avocados, figs, dark chocolate, or bananas — can help you fight off the effects of the aging brain.

Blueberries

Blueberries are delicious, but they also help in boosting your memory. According to a 2010 study, blueberries were shown to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. They also contain anthocyanins, compounds that are associated with increased neuronal signaling in the brain’s memory areas. In the study, researchers found that participants who drank wild blueberry juice on a daily basis had improvements in paired associate learning and word list recall; they also found lower depressive symptoms and glucose levels.

Cruciferous Vegetables

According to the National Institute on Aging, eating a lot of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can help stave off cognitive decline as well as other chronic diseases, like heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Green, leafy, cruciferous vegetables in particular (like broccoli and spinach) have been shown to reduce the rate of cognitive decline. The Mediterranean diet, in particular (vegetables, legumes, fruits, cereals, fish, olive oil, mild amounts of alcohol — as well as low consumption of saturated fats, dairy, meat, and poultry) has shown in studies to be beneficial for cognitive health compared to more “Western” diets that are high in fats, carbs, and meat.

Green Tea

Green tea is good for a lot of things — but it’s also going to help you protect your brain. In a recent study completed at the University of Basel, researchers found that green tea extract enhances your thinking process and working memory. Participants scored higher for working memory tasks after they received the green tea extract, and an MRI showed a boost in connectivity between the parietal and frontal cortex of the brain, meaning that green tea “might increase the short-term synaptic plasticity of the brain,”  said Professor Stefan Borgwardt, an author of the study.


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6 Brain-Boosting Foods That Should Be In Every Kitchen

When you’re retraining your brain — trying to acquire a new habit or pick up a new skill — you’d be surprised by the little things that can have a big impact on your brain’s overall health and function. One of the most important things you can do for your brain’s health is eat brain-boosting foods.
Of course, people who are already taking on a brain regimen of some sort already have enough on their plates without adding meal preparation with exotic ingredients only found in specialty grocery stores. So here are six foods you can find at any neighborhood grocery store that will help you retrain your brain.

1. Coconut oil

Why eat it? There are so many advantages to swapping out the cooking oil in your house with coconut oil. One of the biggest is that coconut oil has a much higher heat tolerance than other oils packed with good-for-you fats (like olive oil). That means it remains stable at higher heats, retaining more of the beneficial fats.

Coconut oil is also a rich source of medium-chain triglycerides, which are broken down into ketones, an ideal brain food, in the liver.

How to eat it: Use coconut oil in any of your recipes that call for oil. If you don’t care for the flavor, just a little bit of salt goes a long way in cutting that tropical taste.

2. Turmeric root

Why eat it? One reason brain function declines is the oxidation and inflammation of the neurons in your brain. A compound in turmeric called curcumin inhibits a neurotoxin that’s been linked to neurodegenerative disorders and shows promise as both an anti-oxidation and anti-inflammatory agent.

How to eat it: Fresh turmeric root probably isn’t the most grocery-store friendly, but you’ll definitely find it in the spice aisle. It’s got a peppery, almost mustard-like flavor and will turn just about anything it’s in contact with a lovely golden color. You’ll see it used in Indian and African cuisine, so choosing recipes from those areas of the world is a good way to start experimenting with turmeric.

turmeric

3. Blueberries

Why eat it? You’re probably already heard that blueberries are high in antioxidants, which certainly helps promote brain health. They also contain flavonoids, compounds which are thought to enhance memory. Flavonoids have been shown to enhance spatial memory in both animals and humans, and fruit-derived flavonoids are thought to be especially potent, making blueberries a perfect choice.

How to eat it: Blueberries are great for breakfast in oatmeal, yogurt, a smoothie or part of a fruit salad. They’re tasty tossed in a salad at any time of day and you can make some decadent desserts using these little brain-food bombs. You can even toss them into a container and bring them along as a snack food.

4. Broccoli

Why eat it? Broccoli is one of the most popular vegetables in the US, so hopefully you already know that it can be delicious when it’s not boiled within an inch of its life. It’s also contains lots of lignans, which have been shown to benefit assorted brain functions such as thinking, reasoning, remembering, imagining and learning new words. They’re also high in glucosinolates, which help promote levels of acetylcholine, a vital neurotransmitter in the central nervous system.

How to eat it: Don’t boil broccoli until it stinks up your house. It’s delicious lightly steamed, roasted in the oven, sauteed with some healthy oils or even finely chopped and served raw in a broccoli salad.

5. Green Tea

Why drink it? We’ve known for a while that green tea is another food high in antioxidants, but recent research also indicates that a green tea extract enhances cognitive function, particularly in the working memory of the brain.

How to drink it: Unlike black tea, green tea is best made with not-quite-boiling water and steeped only for one to two minutes. Green tea mixes and blends are also available: green-and-white blends or jasmine green tea are smooth options that will tolerate boiling water for tea novices. And if you don’t like hot tea, you can always drink it iced and infused with some honey, mint or both.

6. Black Pepper

Why eat it? Black pepper is the most widely used spice on the planet. And in the past couple of years, we’ve learned that it can also have significant benefits for your brain. Piperine, an active compound in black pepper, can help inhibit the breakdown of dopamine and serotonin, two neurotransmitters crucial to brain health and mood regulation. Piperine also appears to help control the flow of calcium in the brain, which gives the compound anti-seizure effects.

How to eat it: Fresh-cracked black pepper is much tastier and more beneficial than the already-cracked versions you can buy in stores. So buy a pepper grinder if you don’t already have some and keep it on your table. Crack fresh black peppercorns over anything that strikes your fancy.

by Lisa Wimberger       November 30, 2014                     source: www.mindbodygreen.com

 


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Eat This To Concentrate Better

Brain Foods That Help You Concentrate

Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD on October 11, 2013

Ginseng, Fish, Berries, or Caffeine?

Listen to the buzz about foods and dietary supplements, and you’ll believe they can do everything from sharpen focus to enhance memory, attention span, and brain function.

But do they really work? There’s no denying that as we age, our body ages right along with us. The good news is that you can improve your chances of maintaining a healthy brain if you add “smart” foods and drinks to your diet.

Caffeine Can Make You More Alert

There’s no magic bullet to boost IQ or make you smarter — but certain substances, like caffeine, can energize you and help you concentrate. Found in coffee, chocolate, energy drinks, and some medications, caffeine gives you that unmistakable wake-up buzz, though the effects are short-term. And more is often less: Overdo it on caffeine and it can make you jittery and uncomfortable.

Sugar Can Enhance Alertness

Sugar is your brain’s preferred fuel source — not table sugar, but glucose, which your body processes from the sugars and carbs you eat. That’s why a glass of something sweet to drink can offer a short-term boost to memory, thinking, and mental ability.

Have too much, though, and memory can be impaired — along with the rest of you. Go easy on the sugar so it can enhance memory without packing on the pounds.

Eat Breakfast to Fuel Your Brain

Tempted to skip breakfast? Studies have found that eating breakfast may improve short-term memory and attention. Students who eat it tend to perform better than those who don’t. Foods at the top of researchers’ brain-fuel list include high-fiber whole grains, dairy, and fruits. Just don’t overeat; researchers also found high-calorie breakfasts appear to hinder concentration.

Fish Really is Brain Food

A protein source linked to a great brain boost is fish — rich in omega-3 fatty acids that are key for brain health. These healthy fats have amazing brain power: A diet with higher levels of them has been linked to lower dementia and stroke risks and slower mental decline; plus, they may play a vital role in enhancing memory, especially as we get older.

For brain and heart health, eat two servings of fish weekly.

Add a Daily Dose of Nuts and Chocolate

Nuts and seeds are good sources of the antioxidant vitamin E, which is linked to less cognitive decline as you age. Dark chocolate also has other powerful antioxidant properties, and it contains natural stimulants like caffeine, which can enhance focus.

Enjoy up to an ounce a day of nuts and dark chocolate to get all the benefits you need without excess calories, fat, or sugar.

Walnuts

Add Avocados and Whole Grains

Every organ in the body depends on blood flow, especially the heart and brain. A diet high in whole grains and fruits like avocados can cut the risk of heart disease and lower bad cholesterol. This reduces your risk of plaque buildup and enhances blood flow, offering a simple, tasty way to fire up brain cells.

Whole grains, like popcorn and whole wheat, also contribute dietary fiber and vitamin E. Though avocados have fat, it’s the good-for-you, monounsaturated fat that helps with healthy blood flow.

Blueberries Are Super Nutritious

Research in animals shows that blueberries may help protect the brain from the damage caused by free radicals and may reduce the effects of age-related conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. Studies also show that diets rich in blueberries improved both the learning and muscle function of aging rats, making them mentally equal to much younger rats.

Benefits of a Healthy Diet

It may sound trite but it’s true: If your diet lacks essential nutrients, it can hurt your ability to concentrate. Eating too much or too little can also interfere with your focus. A heavy meal may make you feel tired, while too few calories can result in distracting hunger pangs.

Benefit your brain: Strive for a well-balanced diet full of a wide variety of healthy foods.

Vitamins, Minerals, and Supplements?

Store shelves groan with supplements claiming to boost health. Although many of the reports on the brain-boosting power of supplements like vitamins B, C, E, beta-carotene, and magnesium are promising, a supplement is only useful to people whose diets are lacking in that specific nutrient.

Researchers are cautiously optimistic about ginseng, ginkgo, and vitamin, mineral, and herb combinations and their impact on the brain.

Check with your doctor.

Get Ready for a Big Day

Want to power up your ability to concentrate? Start with a meal of 100% fruit juice, a whole-grain bagel with salmon, and a cup of coffee. In addition to eating a well-balanced meal, experts also offer this advice:

  • Get a good night’s sleep.
  • Stay hydrated.
  • Exercise to help sharpen thinking.
  • Meditate to clear thinking and relax.

REFERENCES:
Morris, M. Archives of Neurology, Oct. 10, 2005 online edition; vol 62. News release, American Medical Association.
Noralyn L. Wilson, RD, a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association (ADA).
Gordon Winocur, PhD, senior scientist for the Rotman Research Institute in Toronto.
Paul E. Gold, professor of psychology and psychiatry, neuroscience program, University of Illinois.
Steven Pratt, MD, author, Superfoods RX: Fourteen Foods Proven to Change Your Life.
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Mathematica Policy Research: “Universal-Free School Breakfast Program Evaluation Design Project – Review of Literature on Breakfast and Learning.”
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Ann Kulze, MD, author, Dr. Ann’s 10-Step Diet: A Simple Plan for Permanent Weight Loss and Lifelong Vitality.
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