BOOST YOUR BRAIN POWER NATURALLY
With These Healthy Foods
You can’t find your phone again and you have no idea if you actually took your vitamins this morning. We all have those days where your brain just doesn’t want to cooperate. While there are all kinds of clickbait articles out there claiming to have magic potions and tricks to get your brain back on track, at the end of the day it’s been shown adjusting your diet has actually makes the biggest impact.
In TCM, it’s all about maintaining balance within our body and food is one of the primary ways to do it, making “food for thought” a real thing. Each one of our organs is linked to certain foods that provide the kind nourishment needed to keep things running smoothly. That includes our brains! Doctors in the East and West have studied the effects of certain foods on brain health, memory, concentration, and rate of aging. Here are some of the foods most likely to give your brain a boost.
Meats for Brain Power
While it’s advised to limit and avoid conventional red meats, grass-fed pastured meats on the other hand have Omega 3 levels that approach those of deep sea fish. Opt for those, or most health and wellness professionals suggest eating five ounces of fish at least two times each week for the best results. Fish rich in omega-3 include salmon, haddock, halibut, cod, and tuna. Other meats with brain benefits include shrimp, pork, and turkey.
Mind-Blowingly Impactful Vegetables
When it comes to brain health, the more veggies, the better. Leafy greens like spinach and kale are excellent bases, but you should also incorporate vegetables like carrots, pumpkin, corn, and reishi mushrooms into your diet each week. You might particularly be interested in reishi mushrooms if you have big projects, presentations, or exams coming up, because they’re known to boost concentration ability. These adaptogens are good for protecting the body from pathogens and evoking a sense of calm.
Fruits for Better Focus
Might sound cheesy, but the old “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” saying is actually a thing when it comes to brain power. Apples are said to be one of the best fruits to support brain health, alongside oranges and bananas. Antioxidant-rich fruits are also said to be particularly beneficial to the brain. Known for their anti-aging properties, this applies to the health and alertness of the mind in addition to better skin, hair, and nails. Add a few cartons of blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries to your cart next time you’re in the grocery store. These berries can be used to make smoothies, added to salads, or popped into your water for a refreshing flavor.
Other Brain Foods
Don’t worry, you won’t be restricted to just eating the boring basics! There are actually some luxurious “cheat foods” included in the TCM brain power plan. Nuts and seeds of several kinds are believed to strengthen the brain and reduce the signs and experience of aging. Get creative with incorporating walnuts, peanuts, pine nuts, sesame seeds, and almonds into your meal plans. Toss a handful into your salads or soups, crush them down into a powder to use when baking, or make them your afternoon snack.
You’ll also have plenty of opportunities to flex your boujee brunch-making muscles because eggs are definitely on the menu. Eggs are said to contain nutrients beneficial to the brain like vitamins B, D and E (all believed to help improve memory). Chocolate lovers can also rejoice, because you now have the perfect excuse for your sweet tooth. Dark chocolate contains strong antioxidants known as flavonoids which are said to increase blood flow to the brain and reduce inflammation. Adding moderate amounts of dark chocolate or unsweetened cocoa powder into your diet can be one of the tastiest ways to help your brain.
Herbs for Memory
You know how even before you take your first sip in the morning, just the smell of freshly brewed coffee starts to wake you up a little? In TCM, it’s all about using the scent, flavor, and medicinal properties of herbs to kick your brain into gear. Need help concentrating? Try peppermint for a boost in memory and concentration skills. Several studies have shown that peppermint can help the mind simply by breathing in the smell, and works even better when you eat or drink it. You can use peppermint essential oils in a diffuser or in baths, make peppermint tea, or add crushed leaves to your drinking water. Rosemary is another common herb that has been proven to significantly improve memory and secondary memory function. Similar to peppermint, the scent alone can be used to diffuse through your home, and you can add it into your soups and seasonings for meats.
If those two scents aren’t your cup of tea, maybe the fresh citrus smell of lemon balm will do the trick. One study on lemon balm showed that participants who took capsules of the herb performed much higher on computer memory tests than those who took a placebo. Ginseng is another medicinal herb to take note of. Studies on ginseng, specifically panax ginseng, have shown that taking ginseng daily improved cognitive function in Alzheimer patients. Those levels returned to their previous state when the patient discontinued use of ginseng.
More Tips for Maximum Brain Function
Timing is everything (and no, we’re not talking about why your last Hinge date was a flop). It’s not only what you eat that makes a difference for your brain’s health, it can also be when you eat. In TCM, the Chinese Body Clock is used to determine the best times of day to do pretty much everything. It outlines the best times to eat, sleep, and work. To follow the rules of the clock for meals, breakfast should be eaten between 7 – 9am, lunch from 11am and 1pm, and dinner between 5 and 7pm.
Another important tip? Slow down and minimize distractions during mealtimes. When’s the last time you’ve enjoyed your meal without texting your mom or responding to work emails? That’s what we thought. Set the electronics and distractions down and take the time to truly enjoy each bite. In TCM it’s believed that devoting all your attention to your meals and taking it slow helps improve the digestive process. You’ll be less likely to have an upset stomach or gas and you’ll get those valuable nutrients processed and to your organs more quickly.
Last, but not least, do your brain a favor and drink a ton of water. Hydration is vital to healthy organs – including your brain. Keep your reusable water bottle with you and sip on water throughout the day. You could even toss in a few antioxidant-rich berries like blueberries and raspberries to enhance the flavor.