Americans have a love/hate relationship with their bodies. The love comes during times when healthy eating is the norm. The hate rolls in when the body is treated to an unhealthy diet and lack of exercise. Jeans are tight, shirts don’t button as comfortably as they once did and energy is low. It’s during these times when most of us turn to fad diets, extreme measures and a desire to get the body we once had – at all costs.
Perhaps the biggest fault in this behavior, however, is that we’re so focused on making the outside beautiful that we forget how important keeping the inside beautiful is. If you’re lucky, you’ll live a long and prosperous life. And when you get into the later years in your life, you’ll focus less on the outside being perfect and more on the one part of the body that mattered the most to begin with – the brain. Why wait? You can start today with a brain-healthy regimen that will strengthen your noggin so you can think better, reason better and perform better. As an added benefit, these brain foods will also help you look great in your jeans, too!
A 2012 study found that cognitive decline could be delayed by up to two and a half years with regular consumption of blueberries and strawberries! How can you get more? Top your morning oatmeal or cereal with berries or simply eat them as a snack. Most important, you should get them whole, as opposed to juiced, to get the most nutrients without the major sugar rush!
Omega-3 fatty acids, found in chia and flax seeds, walnuts and fatty fish, have been linked to heart health as well as brain health. Now a fascinating study has linked them to the protection of brain cells in stroke patients. A 2013 study found that in mice omega-3 injections administered after an ischemic stroke decreased brain damage by 50% or more! Although the study was done on animals, it serves as a great reminder that food can truly be medicine.
Coffee drinkers are more likely to resist development of dementia and Alzheimer’s later in life according to a 2009 study done on rats, which found that just the smell of coffee helped to reduce stress that was associated with loss of sleep. So, as it turns out, there really is a reason you walk straight to the coffee pot when you get out of bed!
While nut consumption has already been linked to improvements in cardiovascular health, it’s the brain that really loves them! A 2013 study found that qualities of the Mediterranean diet such as olive oil and nut consumption helped to protect cognitive function in an elderly population.
Lentils contain lots of fiber and antioxidants that help to prevent atherosclerosis, or cholesterol buildup in your arteries. This kind of cholesterol buildup is a major cause of strokes. Eating heart healthy foods such as lentils could help save you from brain damage. Want to include lentils in your meal tonight? Try this delicious lentil bowl recipe!