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It should not come as a surprise that what we have for breakfast, lunch or dinner has an effect on how well we think. After all, our brain is very particular about food requirements. If it is possible to boost mind performance through diet, it must definitely be worth a try. So, how would the smart food plan be?
Any eating plan aiming to high mental performance should include the following:
Steady supply of glucose - and this means first, do not skip breakfast; second, eat at regular intervals, and grab a snack when needed to keep glucose levels steady. People who skip breakfast perform worse at work or school. And, while any kind of breakfast is better than no breakfast, fizzy drinks and sugary snacks will not pave the way to peak mental state.
High fiber - beans, pulses, wholegrain cereals, vegetables and fruit. High fiber diets have been linked to better learning and reasoning.
B vitamins - whose brain boosting powers have been demonstrated –meat, eggs, dairy, yeast extracts and vegetables.
Antioxidants - including beta carotene, vitamins C and E, for protection against free radicals; found in vegetables and fruits. Antioxidants not only protect your cognitive skills but also may reduce the risk of heart disease and protect against certain forms of cancer. Another good reason to increase your vegetable intake.
Nutrients required to produce neurotransmitters - for instance, eggs are rich in choline, a nutrient that helps to stave off memory loss due to ageing. Yogurt and turkey are rich in tyrosine, precursors of other important neurotransmitters. Tyrosine becomes depleted when we are under stress. We do not need to learn the whole list if we ensure our diet is varied enough. A varied diet guarantees an adequate supply of micronutrients without having to perform complicate calculations. When a food group is excluded, either for health reasons or preference, it is necessary to check if we need to supplement of certain nutrients.
The right fat – our brain is mostly fat and the latest evidence suggests that trans-fatty acids congest the system while omega-3 fatty acids keep it working. And where can you find omega-3 fatty acids? The best source is oily fish, packed not only with omega-3 but also many other brain friendly minerals and nutrients, not present in other vegetable sources of these fatty acids, like flax. Fish is indeed brain food.
How do we put all these together? It might seem an impossible task; relax it can be achieved. Feel free to modify these suggestions to suit your taste and seasonal food availability.
SAMPLE MENU I
Breakfast - Baked beans on wholegrain toast.
Lunch - Curried egg salad with plenty of lettuce, shredded carrots, tomatoes, scallions, a few scattered nuts and an olive oil dressing. Yogurt.
Snack - Small dark chocolate bar.
Dinner - Wild salmon steak with asparagus and brown rice. Finish with strawberries.
SAMPLE MENU II
Breakfast - Yogurt with blueberries. Oats.
Lunch - Three-bean salad with tuna, tomatoes and onions. Orange juice.
Snack - Your favorite nut butter on wholegrain bread.
Dinner - Curried turkey, broccoli, and sweet potatoes. Traditional banana and egg custard as dessert.
One point to remember is that one can have too much of a good thing. For instance, eating mango for breakfast, carrots for lunch and sweet potatoes for dinner, daily, beta carotene levels will be very high; in fact, too high, and keeping this sort of diet for long will produce an unhealthy yellowish skin color. There is not need either to eat fish or eggs every single day, as there are other foods with equally high nutrition value.
Design your own menus aiming for variety, balance, and portion size control.
Anne Ehmer is passionate about food. Non-stop traveling between Europe and United States has somehow afforded Anne time to develop her unique skills in cooking. Her stimulating ideas and recipes are registered in her web sites All Foods Natural and World Food and Wine.