Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Grady Winston. He is an avid internet entrepreneur and guest blogger from Indianapolis. You should never underestimate the role of nutrition in your brain’s day-to-day functioning. The right foods can have a demonstrative effect on your mental health and the brain’s ability to retain information and function at a high level. By contrast, the wrong foods can deliver significant setbacks that, over the course of time, inhibit your brain’s full potential. When it comes to nutrition, smart breeds smart — that is, smart eating choices will encourage better brain functioning. Those effects can reach far into life, reducing your risk of Alzheimer’s and other degenerative brain conditions and disorders that can strike later in life. Here’s a quick guide to some foods you should “hit up” and some foods you should “miss”:
Blueberries are jam-packed with antioxidants, and several studies have already confirmed the fruit’s mental benefits. Blueberries have been found to improve memory functioning while reducing age-related regression in basic functions like coordination and balance. It’s a brain food that will deliver health benefits to your mind now, and well into your future.
You might think that candy’s sugar rush can give your brain a short-term boost, but that’s not the case. A spike in blood glucose only rocks the stability of your blood and brain, creating sugar-based highs and lows that can inhibit your brain functioning. Stay away from sugar — especially processed sugars — to achieve more balance and improved mental functioning.
Too much coffee can have its own negative side effects, but in moderation coffee is a great brain food. In addition to being high in antioxidants, the caffeine in coffee is a healthly, natural brain stimulant. In the long run, coffee has been shown in studies to reduce a person’s risk of mental disorders, including Alzheimer’s and dementia. Just make sure it’s true coffee and not a sugar-added monster from a coffee shop.
MISS: Soft Drinks
Soft drinks may offer the caffeine content that coffee boasts, but they’re also very heavy on sugars and are particularly troublesome if you have several in the course of a day. A study published in the American Journal of Public Health found that persons who drink at least 2.5 cans of soft drink each day are at least three times more likely to become depressed or anxious. If you do drink soda, do so in moderation, but it’s probably best to stay away from it entirely.
HIT: Whole Grains
Fiber-rich whole grains should be a staple food in every healthy diet. Unrefined grains are rich in nutrients such as potassium and magnesium. Lowered risk of heart disease, diabetes and certain cancers are some benefits of incorporating more whole grains into your diet.
MISS: Refined Grains
Unlike their whole grain counterparts, refined grains have been stripped of most, if not all, nutritional value. Avoid white bread, white flour, white rice and most processed foods.
Salmon’s big benefit is its high Omega-3 fatty acid content, which can assist in brain tissue development. Salmon is also a lean meat and can further reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s and other cognitive effects of aging.
MISS: Ice Cream
Most ice cream is high in fat, and unfortunately, fats are anti-brain foods. Any food high in saturated fats can create clogged blood vessels that reduce blood flow to the brain, inhibiting your mental functioning.
HIT: Dark Chocolate
Just because you’re being health-conscious doesn’t mean you have to give up sweets completely. Dark chocolate is full of antioxidants and has been found to reduce blood pressure and lower the risk of heart disease. But don’t use this as an excuse to replace fruits and veggies with chocolate. This heart-healthy treat should only be eaten in moderation.
MISS: White Chocolate
If you crave high-fat, high-sugar foods, chances are you’re a fan of white chocolate. But since white chocolate isn’t made with cocoa, it technically shouldn’t be considered chocolate in the first place, nor does it contain any of the health benefits of milk or dark chocolate. Unfortunately, some of the best brain foods aren’t necessarily the cheapest options when it comes to feeding your family. Keep an eye out for coupons and deals that can lower the cost and make these smart foods more feasible to purchase. And remember that the benefits go beyond the meal itself — with proper nutrition, you can improve your own brain power and the intellectual potential of your children. Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Grady Winston. He is an avid internet entrepreneur and guest blogger from Indianapolis. He has worked in the fields of technology, business, marketing, and advertising implementing multiple creative projects and solutions for a range of clients.