July 18, 2012

Wellness Wednesday-Brain Food

We all know that what we eat affects the way our body looks, and even the way it feels, but did you know what you eat can also have an effect on the way your brain functions?
For a while now, doctors, psychologists, nutritionists have all been telling us to load up on certain foods and it will impact how alert we are or how we react in certain situations, but is that really true?
We use it in every avenue of life... our brain!
It's a major organ and an extremely metabolic one at that, which means it's very hungry and actually very picky.
The health of our brain doesn't depend on how much we feed it, but what we feed it.
For example it's not how much fat, but which fats.
The same thing for goes for probably the most important brain food; carbs.
"Our brain uses carbs as it's main source of energy," says Leah Kittle, a Registered Dietitian with U.T. Medical Center.
While things like candy and sugary soda can make you feel more alert, you usually have a rush, then a major fall.
For long-lasting brain power you need to think healthy.
It's the leafy greens, raw veggies, bright produce, and basic grains that we may not line up to put on our plates, that Kittle says are the basics of brain food.
"Our brain uses all the nutrients from all he foods we eat and the best guidelines we can give is follow the food guide pyramid and get lots of whole grains and fruits and veggies," she says.
There is a lot of hype around specific foods, especially blueberries or bananas.
While they do boost our brain's power, Kittle says they aren't any better than anything else lining the produce isle.
"Blueberries and bananas are a great source of antioxidants but so are all fruits and veggies. Some research shows that antioxidants may help prevent some degenerative brain disease later in life like Alzheimer's or dementia. They just can help our brain function at optimum capacity," she says.
Lean proteins are another thing that help with brain function.
But with these, there are some that seem to be better than others.
"The fish has Omega 3 fatty acids, flax seeds, and those Omega 3's are important for brain functions so that is why you hear about them," says Kittle.
Kittle says even more important than the lunch you pack is the breakfast you consume.
The way you fuel your body to start the day may be most critical in enhancing your mental capabilities.
So, there is such thing as brain food, but it's no brain science to figure out what will make you most alert.
It simply boils down to a healthy diet.
"Anytime you don't eat well, your body isn't going be functioning as well as it should, that's not just your brain that is all your organs," says Kittle.
Nutritionists say a healthy diet can boost our brain in other ways.
Several studies show that a diet high in those bad fats could be a major cause of depression and aggression.
This of course is aside from the obvious, which is the fact that bad fats are directly linked to an expanded waistline, heart problems, and even certain cancers.

1 comment:

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