You Get Out What You Put In
The brain: perhaps the most complex and vital organ in the human body. Divided into the forebrain, midbrain, and hindbrain, each compartment of this special organ plays a vital role in how you function on a day-to-day basis. With over a billion nerves, the brain allows you to think, feel, understand, move, plan, process, act, and even breathe. Among its numerous roles in your body, the brain provides the ability to focus on your daily tasks and responsibilities in order to get the job done efficiently and effectively. However, like the rest of the body’s organs, the brain requires proper nutrients to function optimally.
So when you begin to feel a bit fuzzy, less focused, or easily distracted, it may be time to hone in on the tenant of, "what you put in is what you get out." A good place to start is to begin incorporating foods that house those very nutrients that the brain thrives on. Below is a list of a few good ideas to get you started!
That’s right! You are reading this correctly. DARK Chocolate is good for you. This sweet treat has antioxidants that decrease inflammation and improves blood flow (to the brain). Moreover, dark chocolate contains caffeine which is a natural stimulant that can improve concentration and focus. Be careful though! Many mass produced chocolates are heavily processed and miss the health benefits you can bank on. Instead, opt for minimally-processed dark chocolate with 70% cocoa or more.
Full of monounsaturated fats, this fruit improves blood flow and decreases blood pressure, which conversely promotes your brain's overall health. Additionally, avocados contain folate and Vitamins B, C, and K—all of which are necessary for your body to work the way your brain tells it to. Though these smooth, green fruits are excellent sources of protein and are low in sugar (for a fruit!), they can be high in calories. So start by including ¼ or ½ of one into you diet daily whether it be on a salad or as a spread on your favorite sub.
Salmon is high in Omega-3 fatty acids which can improve brain function. These fats have been found to improve ADHD, dementia, asthma, arthritis, and depression. Keep in mind: high levels of mercury and toxins have been found in normal wild-caught fish and farm-raised salmon. So when you shop at the fish counter at the supermarket, ask for Alaskan Wild-Caught Salmon. With a dash of lemon juice, black pepper, and a little organic butter, your focused-fish will be ready to serve!
This blue fruit is a good source of Vitamins C and K, manganese, and fiber. But perhaps more notably to your brain, blueberries contain gallic acid and anthocyanins (flavonoids which may improve memory). Gallic Acid is an antioxidant that has been found to help manage oxidative stress and could even decrease degeneration. Try treating yourself to a brainy snack of blueberries paired with cottage cheese, or perhaps a cup of greek yogurt.