Running a small business takes brain power. If you are having some trouble thinking about the next big idea, you may need to feed your brain. Did you know that while you are awake, your brain can produce about enough energy to power up a light bulb? It’s the most complex machine on earth and there are foods designed by nature to keep your noggin in good working order.
Here’s one grocery list that’s worth the read. Your body and business will thank you.
Whole grains. You hear about them all the time, and for good reason. Your brain can’t work like a well-oiled machine without a steady supply of energy in the form of glucose. Whole grains that have a low glycemic index and lots of fiber will release glucose slowly into your bloodstream to keep your brainfire burning.
TIP: Aim for 25 grams a day. Whole grain toast with a tablespoon of peanut butter is a great breakfast!
The omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA naturally occur in oily fish like wild salmon, trout, mackerel, sardines, and herring. These essential fatty acids (EFAs) can’t be made by the body, and can only be absorbed by diet. Oily fish contain EFAs in a form that the body can easily utilize, and your brain will be especially thrilled, as omega-3 fatty acids are said to play an important role in cognitive function and working memory!
TIP: Chow down on fish twice a week, but limit Charlie the Tuna to avoid mercury consumption!
Want to steer clear of short-term memory loss? What? I’m sorry, I forgot the question. Want to steer clear of short-term memory loss? Eat berries! Blueberries have been found to protect the brain from oxidative stress, and may reduce conditions such as Alzheimer’s and dementia. They can also improve your learning capacity and motor skills. Other berries, such as strawberries, and acai berries, help the brain rid itself of the toxic proteins associated with age-related memory loss.
TIP: Try to eat 1 cup of berries a day, fresh, frozen, or freeze dried. Add a handful to plain yogurt!
Mamma Mia! Did you know that tomatoes contain the antioxidant, lycopene, which could help protect your brain from the free radical damage that leads to Alzheimer’s and dementia? So, have a bowl of whole grain pasta slathered in marinara. Mangia!
TIP: No time to cook? Toss together a quick tomato salad!
Jack o’ Lantern’s innards are loaded with vitamins A, B, and K, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, calcium, iron, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, potassium and copper. They have enough zinc to boost your memory and thinking skills, and not only that, but they are a fabulous source of omega-3 and 6 EFAs, which can help reduce inflammation. Who knew a cute little pumpkin seed could pack such a punch?
TIP: A handful a day is all you need. Roast ‘em or toast ‘em, then start crunching!
Broccoli, kale, collards, spinach, cauliflower, cabbage, and a whole slew of other cruciferous veggies are superfoods that contain antioxidants that will protect your brain from those nasty free radicals. They are great sources of vitamins K, E, B and C, folic acid, fiber, and more, and they work to lower homocysteine levels in the blood, an amino acid that may be linked to heart disease, Alzheimer’s, dementia, difficulty concentration, memory issues, and a less favorable mood.
TIP: Toss them into salad, add them to soup, and eat them daily along with the rest of the rainbow!
Studies have shown that sage can improve memory, and may even help prevent against Alzheimer’s disease. Participants were given sage essential oil in varying doses and showed significant improvement on word recall tests compared to those who were given a placebo. So sage it up! Then, audition for Jeopardy.
TIP: Add sage to chicken, try sage and apple stuffing, or sprinkle on butternut squash before roasting!
Did you ever really look at a walnut? No? Well crack one open. It kind of looks like a brain. This wrinkly nut, among others, is a brain booster, filled with tons of vitamin E. Research has found that the antioxidant vitamin E contributes to less cognitive decline as we age, and lowers the risk of developing Alzheimer’s. So, grab a bowl of nuts and get crackin’.
TIP: Aim for about 2 ounces a day of walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, etc. Go nuts!
The avocado fruit, they say, is almost as good as blueberries are for your brain. And it contains vitamin E, which as we have already learned can help reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s, and can also lower high blood pressure, thereby diminishing your risk for stroke that permanently damages brain tissue. Yes, it is high in fat and calories – but it’s the good monounsaturated fat that contributes to healthy blood flow to your brain and the rest of your organs!
TIP: Add ¼ or a ½ to one meal a day. Try a banana-peach-avocado smoothie with a hint of cinnamon!
Beans are cheap. Bonus – they are filled with the kind of fiber that helps to stabilize the glucose levels (blood sugar) that your brain is dependent on for fuel. Black beans, lentils, kidney beans, garbanzo – whatever your bean preference, there’s a plethora of types, and even more ways to prepare them!
TIP: Try to consume about a ½ cup every day. Mash up some white bean hummus!
Pomegranate is that reddish fruit that’s full of tiny little seeds that make it a challenge to eat. Well, it’s worth the challenge. The fruit or the juice is a great source of antioxidants, and what do they protect your brain from? Say it with us: free radicals. If you are going for the juice, though, be careful because it often has added sugar.
TIP: Drink up 2 ounces daily, and dilute it with your favorite flavored seltzer!
No, not bottled tea that’s loaded with sugar or that powdered stuff that comes in a can. Brew yourself a fresh pot of tea daily, and drink it hot or iced. The caffeine in tea will help you focus and improve your memory. In addition, its antioxidants, called catechins, and found in higher concentration in green tea, will keep your blood pumping!
TIP: Have 3 cups a day, and the longer you let it steep, the better it is for you!
The incredible, edible…yes, eggs are good for you. The yolk, which is where the nutrients are, contains choline, a B vitamin. Your brain takes the choline and makes it into acetylcholine, which is a neurotransmitter that can help your brain cells communicate and keep your memory intact!
TIP: 3 or 4 a week is ok. Skip the fast food drive-thru and make your own egg sandwich!
Everything in moderation. So don’t overdo it, but know this. Research shows that the antioxidant EGCG, which is found in red wine and green tea, helps stop a particular protein (amyloid-beta) from harming brain cells. Not only that, but wine’s antioxidants might block the proteins that cause destructive plaque, and might also help your nerve cells talk to each other!
TIP: No more than 1 glass a day. When it comes to wine, less is definitely more.
Curcumin is the active ingredient in turmeric, the potent spice that gives curry powder its distinct yellow color. Curry has a smell and flavor easily identifiable in Indian or Thai food, and studies have shown that it is beneficial for reducing inflammation, and for getting rid of those amyloid-beta proteins that create brain plaque and Alzheimer’s.
TIP: Turmeric can slow down blood clotting. So check with your doctor first!
Did you know that 60% of your body is made of water? Your brain and heart are about 73% water, your lungs are around 83%, kidneys are up there at 79%, skin is 64%, and even though you think of your bones as being solid, they are 31% water! In keeping with the rest of your watery organs, your brain is 75% water. So…drink lots of water. Your brain is 75% dysfunctional without it!
TIP: About 6 or 8 glasses a day is ideal. Not a fan of water? Squeeze in a little fresh lemon juice!
Just like with tea, the caffeine in coffee will increase your focus, improve your reaction time and help keep your attention span sharp. Studies have also found that it may reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s by 30%. But beware of those venti cups. Too much caffeine can cause brain fog!
TIP: 200 milligrams of caffeine is a good daily limit. That’s about 2, 8-ounce cups.
You know, there’s always a way to rationalize dessert. In this case, though, it’s really good for you! Dark chocolate that’s at least 70% cacao contains flavonoids, an antioxidant that can keep your brain healthy. It also has a bit of caffeine, which we already know does wonders for your concentration. You know what else is great about chocolate? Endorphins. “Feel-good” chemicals that chocolate stimulates your brain to produce!
TIP: All you need is a square. About a half to 1 ounce a day. Just like wine, don’t overdo it!
In closing, print out this list and take it to your local supermarket, then stock up. Walking around the store (while avoiding the cookie aisle…) is also great exercise, an important aspect of a healthy lifestyle. Regular exercise can help improve your memory and reduce stress levels, which is another key factor in keeping your brain disease-free!