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Good Nutrition Boosts The Brain

Mar 1, 2008
If you're finding that your concentration levels at work have dipped or you've got an important exam coming up and you need a mental kick-start, eating the right 'brain food' could be the simple answer.

Our body needs certain essential nutrients to function properly and one of the most important organs to keep healthy is the brain. Scoffing the wrong types of food, while being a treat, can make us feel lethargic. This is because foods high in sugar, salt and preservatives release chemicals in the brain that prevent it from working to its full potential. By making adjustments to our diet, we can boost concentration levels and give our brain the energy it needs to perform.

For years we've been told that eating fish will make us smart, and that's because it's true! Salmon, herring and mackerel are all known as oily-fish and they are full of omega 3 fatty acids. These fats are an important part of building brain cells and the more brain cells we build the better our ability to learn and memorise. Also, a brain chemical called choline is found in sardines so add a tin of those to your shopping list too.

Part of our brain is solid and composed of mainly fat and therefore to enhance its performance we must give it the necessary fats it requires. These EFAs (essential fatty acids) are the ones we find in oily-fish and are also present in eggs. Eating eggs will feed the brain with the fatty acids that our body can't naturally produce and improve the pathways in the brain called synapses. Each time we learn a new skill or develop a new memory, it is the synapses that are forming and joining together so we need to keep these healthy to retain information.

So what about looking after the non-solid part? That requires water as it makes up 80% of the brain so increase your water intake. Dehydration releases stress hormones which over time can lead to damage. Most headaches we suffer are the brain's way of telling us it's dehydrated so get drinking plain water or perhaps green tea which contains antioxidants helping prevent cognitive impairment. Also try herbal or fruit teas but avoid caffeinated and fizzy sugary drinks.

There are also certain natural supplements that help boost the brain. Nutritional supplements like Gingko biloba have been used for centuries and have become known as 'memory herbs'. Studies into these herbs have shown improved circulation around the body, particularly to the brain. By increasing blood flow to the brain, extra oxygen is carried with it enabling you to think more clearly and learn at a faster rate.

Vitamin B works in the same way and is particularly useful during stressful times. When we suffer with stress, our levels of vitamin B become depleted and therefore need replacing so eat green beans, lentils or liver or take a vitamin B supplement.

By adopting a healthy lifestyle, taking some exercise and adding these foods and supplements to your diet you'll feel better and improve your concentration dramatically. You'll find you can work a full day without dropping off to sleep at your desk or that exam you were worrying about will be a breeze.
About the Author
Shaun Parker is an expert on therapy and alternative medicine. He helps people that are looking for nutrition advice find a nutritionist near them.
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