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Feed Your Brain: Eat the Rainbow

6 Dec

This month we are exploring how to build a better brain, one day and one exercise at a time. Today let’s look at an everyday focus – one that will help you create a healthy environment to maximize your daily efforts.

There is an approach to nutrition shown to promote better health and increase energy that has been around for a while – eat the rainbow. It is really simple – prepare and eat a diet that includes foods that cover every color of the rainbow. Since Mother Nature has a way of making what is good for us appealing in its natural form, follow color cues and clues to eat your way to better health. It’s really that easy and from an overall health standpoint, pretty solid advice. It turns out that this is also really good daily thinking and functioning advice too.

The chemicals in our brains, neurotransmitters, need a variety of nutrients, in a good balance, to function well. Researchers have, so far, found more than 50 types of neurotransmitters. Each regulates daily functioning and each needs nutrients to work most effectively. Keeping those neurotransmitters well-nourished helps improve every level of brain function from attention to problem solving to muscular control and all points in between.

There is solid research that links healthy levels of Vitamin A, the B family of vitamins, Vitamin K, folate, and omega fatty acids with good cognitive functioning in general but memory and problem solving in particular.

Taking the rainbow in order, here is a small sampling of foods that contain the nutrients needed to promote thinking and problem solving!

Red Strawberries, Tomatoes Vitamins A & K, Folate, Omega Fatty AcidsVitamins A & B6, Folate
Yellow Bananas, Squash, Salmon B6B6, FolateOmega Fatty Acids, B6, B12
Orange Pumpkin Vitamins A, K, & B6, Folate
Green Spinach, Avocado Vitamins A, K, & B6, FolateVitamins A, K, & B6, Folate,Omega Fatty Acids (3&6)
Blue Blue Corn Folate, Omega Fatty Acids
Indigo Blueberries, Purple Cabbage Vitamins A, B6, B12 & K, Folate, Omega Fatty AcidsVitamins A, B6, B12 & K, Folate, Omega Fatty Acids
Violet Acai Berries, Blackberries Vitamins A, B6, B12 & K, Folate, Omega Fatty Acids

They say we eat with our eyes first. Make sure your plates are colorful and packed with brain healthy nutrients!

Zooming Out: brain healthy activities, the bigger picture

22 Jul

Let’s zoom out a bit and take a broader look at the benefits of every day brain health…and figure out how that relates to yesterday’s photo slices!

Stress reduction is vital to good brain health because too much stress can cause major problems. The brain kicks off a pretty intricate and hard to stop chain reaction that is, by design, intended to protect your body during the “fight”.  You can read about the whole chain reaction here but the bottom line is that you end up with a chemical state in your brain designed to shut down nourishing systems and build up resistance to change so your body can guard against attack.  The process that protects you in battle, is hard to shut off and can cause damage over the long run if it continues unchecked.

Simple things can help you reduce stress….

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There are many effective relaxation techniques that both fit in your life and are good for your body – particularly your brain and your heart. Just by taking a few minutes you can really feel improved memory and increased problem solving skills. Simple actions, like taking a peaceful walk on the beach or going for a hike or practicing breathing techniques, make it possible to lower blood pressure, improve heart functioning, and limit cortisol production — all critical to finding an optimum, healthy, functioning balance.

Left handed hiking

 

Enhancing everyday experience by learning something new or turning up your senses or diving into an experience more deeply also helps you nourish and keep neural pathways open, functioning, and healthy.

Learning a new task keeps your brain’s circuitry active. All of those things associated with learning activate parts of your brain in ways that doing familiar tasks just don’t — it is the challenge and the stretch that make them so valuable. Maintaining and enhancing your brain health is really about keeping your brain nourished with good chemical and electrical activity — all in the right balance and in the healthy doses. The process of learning sets those nourishing chemical and electrical activities in motion and allows you to maintain.  Take something old, like cooking, a give it a new twist by learning a new technique.  

Books 1

 

You can also put a twist on something you do everyday.  When is the last time you used a typewriter?  This one is an antique and doesn’t even use English language letters.

Typewriter Dubovik Bulgaria

How about enhancing other everyday experiences like food?  Learning about food origins or experimenting with different varieties of foods are simple ways to vary your routine and add some more information to your daily experience.

This is a cacao bean right of the tree.  Someday it will be incredible chocolate.

cacao beans split 2

Looking to vary your protein sources?  Try out a variety of beans.  Each will change your experience a bit by providing different textures, tastes, and colors.

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You can turn every day experiences and activities into brain boosters with very little effort.  What can you change to amplify your life today?

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