Brain Boosters: Foods That Can Help Improve Your Intelligence, Alertness, Focus, And Memory
When it comes to your brain, there’s always room for improvement. One can never be too smart, too witty, nor full of too many useless facts. Still, all the effort needed to acquire such abilities is rather tiring. If only we could eat a food that would instantly transform us into geniuses. Well, until scientists develop this magic cuisine, here are a few foods that may help out a bit with your brain’s strength.
No one ever started their day wishing that they were less smart. Colleges make billions by promising hopeful 18-year-olds that four years at their institutions will make them more intelligent than the rest of the population. Little do they know that similar results could be achieved by simply consuming…dark chocolate? In a study conducted by Northumbria University in England, students performed better on simple math tests after drinking shakes chock full of cocoa, Fox News reported. It’s not that dark chocolate makes you “smarter” but it does help the knowledge you already have shine through a bit better. The flavonol in dark chocolate boosts the circulatory system, increasing the amount of blood that reaches your brain, according to Fox News. This ultimately increases brain functions which would explain why test scores can improve after a quick chocolaty snack.
When you’re feeling sluggish, you may be tempted to grab a coffee or candy bar for a quick pick me up. Although these foods will give you an instant energy boost, it’s often short lived and the later crash can leave you worse off. Vitamin E filled almonds may offer a more effective alternative. These are the most nutrient filled nuts, according to a 2010 study,Business Insider reported. The vitamin E and magnesium in almonds will keep your brain at top-working capacity without the aforementioned “crash” afterwards. If nuts aren’t your thing, there’s nothing quite like gold old fashioned protein to give your brain a much needed boost to get you through the day. Protein is able to stimulate orexin neurons, the cells in your brain responsible for keeping you awake. All animal by products such as fish, meats, dairy, and eggs are packed with protein.
It happens to the best of us. You get halfway through a perfectly fine work day when suddenly you find you can’t seem to focus on anything for longer than a few minutes. Maybe next time you should put down the coffee and try reaching for a berry snack instead. Studies have shown that blueberries in particular are able to increase “concentration and memory” for up to five hours. This is due to the large amount of antioxidants they contain. These powerful nutrients are able to stimulate the blood of blood and oxygen to your brain which results in sharper focus, no caffeine needed. The fact that they are able to fight cancer as well doesn’t hurt either.
Who doesn’t want better memory? Studies suggest that eating cold water fatty fish, such as salmon not only helps you to improve memory retention, but can also protect you for degenerative mental disease such as dementia. That is because they contain high levels of essential fatty acids called DHA. According to the BBC, tomatoes can help protect memory loss due to free radical damage to cells, you know just in case you needed a reason to have that second serving of pasta.
I recently read a “30 Tips” post on Rubies and Radishes that had some great suggestions to make eating Paleo easier.*
But… compulsive editor that I am, I edited it down to what I thought were the best tips for eating Paleo, and add a few helpful items and notes of my own. Here you go!
• When you’re just starting, plan out meals and snacks several days in advance. This keeps you from caving in on busy days. Once you get the hang of cooking and eating Paleo, it will be easier to throw together meals from your well-stocked kitchen.
• If planning all your meals seems overwhelming, try it in phases. Most people don’t need a lot of variety in breakfast, so find one or two Paleo-friendly breakfasts that work for you and get those nailed down. Then find a few lunches that work for you. Then move on to planning dinners.
• Cook meat in bulk; save in easy-to-thaw portions in the freezer. Hamburger, pulled pork, chicken, and your favorite kinds of sausage are all handy to have ready to deploy. You can also cook bacon in big batches and keep it in the fridge. Have you tried cooking it in the oven?
• Dedicate time to prep ingredients every week. Or, if it works better for you, every evening after dinner, prep what you’ll need for tomorrow’s meal(s). Thaw anything that’s frozen. Chop up ingredients. Pre-mix seasonings or sauces.
• Paleo eating and meal planning takes time to adjust to. Give yourself time and grace. Keep at it — it will get easier! It’s only hard until it’s routine.
• Read labels. Learn to recognize sugar in all its disguises. Yeah, it’s overwhelming and kind of depressing at first, but it’s a necessary education.
• Don’t spend too much time trying to figure out how to substitute or recreate the non-Paleo food you once ate. Instead of mourning the loss of food that makes you feel yucky, celebrate new food discoveries that make you feel great! As you stick with this, your taste buds will change and junk food will become less and less appealing.
• Explore Paleo blogs and books. The more Paleo knowledge you have, the easier it is to stick with your new lifestyle!
• When you make dinner, make extra. Enjoy it for breakfast (yes, you can!) or lunch the next day, or pack it in the freezer for an easy future meal.
• One of the hardest things about eating Paleo is the social pressure to eat junk. Always have a plan before going to social gatherings. And focus on how that food is going to make you feel tomorrow! Tell yourself, “When I eat crap, I feel like crap.”
• Eat a satisfying meal before you go to parties so you won’t be tempted by unhealthy choices. Drink plenty of water while you’re there. Focus on enjoying the people, not the food.
• If it’s a pot luck, bring your own Paleo dish (or two), because that might be your only healthy choice!
• Likewise, have a plan for how you’ll eat when meeting friends at restaurants.
• Remember to get the sleep you need every night, and drink plenty of water. And several times a week, if not every day, try to get a little sunshine and gentle exercise.