BrainFood-Walnut

BrainFood-Walnut

In today’s tech-filled world, part of my daily routine works around making sure that my iPhone, iPod and laptops are all charged and always ready for my use. When I travel, I have a separate luggage for all my technology-related items.

How about my brain? Considering that my brain is better than any chip that I can buy today, what am I doing to ensure that my brain is properly charged and adequately cared for?

Here’s my list of top 7 brain fitness ideas based on my personal experience and research.

1. Exercise

Long hours in front of the computer are often hard on the brain. That’s when I drop everything and go for a walk. Something as simple as a short walk or just dancing to music on TV /  radio makes the blood flow and along with it the ideas.

2. Short meals evenly spaced out

A study in the Journal of Physiology states that our brain constitutes only 2% of the body weight and yet needs 20% of the energy demands on the resting metabolism. That probably explains why my brain refuses to co-operate when I am hungry. Of course, it refuses to work when I am too full as well.

Recently, I have switched to small meals taken more often. Apart from the 3 short meals, my in-between meals consists of nuts combined with sprouts, fruits, milk or cheese. I find that, physically, I am feeling lighter and more energetic. At the same time, my brain seems more alert and better focused.

Michael Green of Aston University in England suggests one tactic to optimize brain power is to have “more frequent but smaller meals.” The brain works best with about 25 grams of glucose circulating in the blood stream — about the amount found in a banana.

More recently evolved areas of the brain, such as the frontal cortex (it’s like the CEO of the brain), are particularly sensitive to falling glucose levels, while brain areas regulating vital functions are more hardy, said Leigh Gibson of Roehampton University in England. “When your glucose level drops, the symptom is confused thinking, not a change in breathing pattern,” he said. Fuzzy-headedness or constant confused thinking is the brain’s reaction to “chronic under-eating, over-exercising or regularly skipping meals.”

3. Nuts and Seeds

Walnuts look like our brain and are most beneficial to the brain? Is that nature’s message, I wonder! Nuts and flaxseed oil provide essential fatty acids and valuable nutrients for the brain.

I have a mix of nuts (almonds, pistachio, walnuts) and seeds (sunflower, pumpkin, flaxseed) along with apricots and raisins all mixed together in a big container. A few tea-spoons of this combination keeps the brain chugging and has even reduced the need for more food during meals.

4. Meditation and Deep Breathing

I find that when I get get spaced out after intense sessions of research, a few rounds of deep breathing makes a huge difference. It helps to provide much needed oxygen to the brain and helps my concentration as well. Meditation is wonderful. It is like a relaxing shower for the mind. My goal for 2011 is to be more consistent with the meditation sessions.

5. Puzzles and brain teasers

Simple word puzzles are my favourite. Of late, though, in keeping with trying new things, I have started trying other puzzles as well.

6. Music and Laughter

Music and laughter add meaning and joy to the day and allow me to live in the moment. They are my shock-absorbers, allowing me to travel on rugged roads without feeling every bump.

7. Water

Last, but not the least, lots of water. 85% of the brain tissue is water. Dehydration depletes energy intake of the brain.

Here are a few links on food for the brain.

The Brain Food Pyramid

BBC Good Food: 10 foods to boost your brainpower

Dr. Sears notes on brain foods 

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