Five Foods for a Happy Brain

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FLAX

(whole or ground seeds, or flax oil)

Our brain gets pumped-up when it is fed plenty of magnesium, B vitamins (especially folate), dietary fiber, and manganese. It also needs omega-3 fatty acids to function properly. Adding flax seed or flax oil to your diet provides these nutrients; your brain cells will purr.

  1. Folate is required for the production and regulation of the neuropeptides and neurotransmitters that let neurons signal each other. It also has an anti-inflammatory effect by lowering levels of homocysteine, an inflammatory amino acid. A deficiency in folate can lead to anxiety, memory problems, depression, and confusion.
  2. The mineral manganese is essential in the synthesis of fatty acids and has some antioxidant (protective) properties. Magnesium is necessary for manufacturing enzymes involved in brain metabolism.
  3. A diet high in refined carbohydrates and low in fiber raises our blood sugar level and causes chronic inflammation in the body. Inflammation is considered a precursor to many illnesses such as depression, heart disease, and diabetes.

WALNUTS

Walnuts are the brain food that looks like a mini-brain. They offer our gray matter oodles of omega-3 fatty acids, and increased melatonin

  1. The brain is made of approximately 60% fat and omega-3 fatty acids are brain-essential for mental flexibility and fluid processing. Several studies indicate a lack of omega-3s can lead to depression and dull our thought process. A quarter cup of walnuts each day can alleviate an omega-3 deficiency.
  2. Walnuts can also help us get a good night’s sleep. Eating them significantly raises the body’s melatonin production. Melatonin is a hormone that allows us to nod off at night, and adequate sleep is necessary for clear thinking and elevated moods. As you fall asleep each night, you can thank your melatonin.

SALMON

Salmon, like walnuts, is loaded with omega-3 fatty acids. It is also an excellent source of vitamin D, and vitamin B12. If you dislike salmon, halibut has less omega-3 but is still a good source.

  1. Vitamin D is a requirement for healthy bones and teeth. It also is necessary for a regular sleep cycle and memory function. It takes only a couple ounces of salmon to provide a daily requirement of vitamin D.
  2. Message signals traveling our nerves need vitamin B12. A lack of it can mess with our short-term memory and muddle our thoughts, and is a factor in depression, irritability, and low energy. It takes 4 ounces of salmon to give you the recommended day’s worth of B12.

EGGS

Like salmon, eggs provide omega-3s and vitamin B12. Eggs also offer protein, and choline.

  1. The yolk is egg-specially good for brain maintenance. In it is an amazing amount of choline. Diets rich in choline are linked to higher scores on IQ tests. Choline is a B-complex vitamin and a precursor of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, important for cognition and memory.
  2. Most of the yolk’s fat is the unsaturated or good-for-you kind. Studies found that having an egg every day does not put people at greater risk for heart disease.
  3. To get the most benefit from eating an egg, look for omega-3 enhanced eggs. The enhancement is from feeding hens flax or fish product. Hens that roam pastures eat weeds and bugs which naturally boost their egg’s amount of omega 3s. Eggs are also a great source of protein. Half of the protein is in the egg white.

BLACKBERRIES

The blackberry is bulging with folate, omega-3 fatty acids, anthocyanins, and tryptophan. Berries also contain antioxidants that reduce brain inflammation. If you do not like blackberries, blueberries are a good substitute.

  1. Blackberries have a stringent flavor that comes from its dark pigment, anthocyanins. This pigment is aces for the growth of neurons in the hippocampus, a part of our brain involved in learning, memory, and emotional regulation. Anthocyanins may also slow the brain’s aging process.
  2. Turkey is famous for providing tryptophan which is also found in nuts, dairy products, tuna, and blackberries. Tryptophan is an essential amino acid meaning our body does not produce it. It is associated with happiness because it's a forerunner of the mood-elevating neurotransmitter, serotonin.

Bon appetit!

 
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