Food for Thought

Food for ThoughtIf you read our August 29th blog post, Chew on This, you’ve likely been openly enjoying some indulgences you previously kept secret—namely: sugar, chocolate, and coffee—and are calling them “good little pleasures” rather than “guilty little pleasures.” Hasn’t it been incredibly liberating not to have to hide your chocolate stash anymore? Of course, if you’re like me you’ve had to continue hiding your stash due to “people” (we won’t name names) in your house that enjoy chocolate at least as much as you do. I can assure you those same “people” won’t be vying for your stash of the foods I’m about to suggest in today’s post. In fact, feel free to leave these goodies well within view. Who knows, maybe they’ll actually eat them.

Fish: Wild salmon, tuna, sardines, kippers, and other “oily fish” contain omega-3 fatty acids. The interesting thing about omega-3 fatty acids is that they are built from essential fatty acids (EFAs) that cannot be made within the body and must be obtained from foods. Let me tell you, “essential” doesn’t even begin to describe it. EFAs are vital for the function of brain cell membranes and transmission of signals between brain cells. Think of your brain as a machine. Machines need oil to run smoothly, and don’t go skimpy on that oil for proper brain machine maintenance. Aim for at least 3 servings of fish each week if it has low mercury content; limit higher mercury content fish to just 6 ounces per week. Adequate levels of omega-3 fatty acids should help to improve your focus and memory, oiling that rusty wheel quite nicely.

Cruciferous Vegetables: With the winter season approaching, cruciferous vegetables will be in season and at their peak deliciousness. Soon cabbage, cauliflower, kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and many others will be overflowing in the produce section and at the farmer’s markets. They’re easy to pass by. It almost seems that we’re programmed not to like them. What kid ever asked for more broccoli on their plate? Truth be told, they’re our life-long friends. Packed with antioxidants and carotenoids, they protect our brains from free radicals. Have you ever taken the Dr. Oz Real Age Test and gotten the smackdown? A Harvard Medical School study indicates that just 5 servings of cruciferous vegetables a week can lower your brain’s age by 1-2 years. Great as part of dinner, great as a snack—the next time you see that cauliflower staring at you in the grocery store, silently chant, “Delicious cruciferous, delicious cruciferous,” and put it in your cart.

Pumpkin Seeds: “Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don’t.”  If you don’t, try reaching for pumpkin seeds instead. Among the most nutritious seeds there are, a handful of pumpkin seeds gives you a full daily dose of zinc, essential for boosting memory and thinking ability. Not only that, but they will give you a full daily dose of ‘zen’ while they’re at it. Next time you find yourself wanting to scream and cry and stomp your feet at one of the reports in the course, take a deep breath and inhale some pumpkin seeds. Careful, don’t choke—that won’t help, but the pumpkin seeds will. They’ve been found to help de-stress by assisting in GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) production, an inhibitory neurotransmitter related to calming nerves. Need I say more?

Really, this list of foods could go on for quite a while. Why not invest in your diet the way you do your office chair and do some research to make wise shopping decisions both in tools for your body and tools for your brain.

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