We all know what “healthy eating” looks like. We know a vegetable is better than say a McDonald’s cheeseburger. The problem is that despite what our goal may be (weight loss, increase in energy levels, mental clarity etc.), the changes required of us may seem a bit daunting. Sticking to a “diet” may sound a bit too hard and unsustainable. It doesn’t need to be. Below are small changes you can make today that can have a big impact. A healthy diet improves brain productivity..
Up your Water Game
Did you know that your brain is ~73% water? Keeping your brain hydrated is very important. If you are dehydrated by as little as 2%, your memory, attention and motor skills can be negatively impaired. Next time you are feeling tired or unable to remember something you just read, reach for your water bottle. Your body requires more water than you think. A general rule of thumb is to drink 8 glasses of water a day but this may vary a bit given your lifestyle. Click here to get more info on this.
Start Subbing Out Sugar
According to the World Health Organization, the typical American diet gets 13% of its calories from sugar, which is roughly about 5X the amount of sugar a person should be consuming. This is a problem as recent studies have shown that high levels of sugar consumption can harm your cognitive function and psychological well-being. A UCLA study on rats proved that those with a high sugar diet had a decrease in memory and learning ability. Think of that the next time you reach for a candy bar during a late-night study session.
What can you do besides going cold turkey on sugar? Slowly start subbing one sugary item at a time. If you frequent having a soda a day, try subbing it out for sparkling water with lemon a few times a week. If you have a few packs of sugar with your coffee or tea, try cutting it down by a third. Having dessert or a sweet snack every night? Try skipping a night. It’s these small changes that slowly add up and make a difference.
Try and limit foods that have Ingredient Labels
Ever hear of the caveman diet? It may sound silly but it’s not. “If it looks like it was made in a factory, don’t eat it.” Stick to foods that have no ingredient labels (i.e. meats, fish, vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts). Studies show that adherence to this can ensure you consume healthy, nutrient-dense caloric foods which will improve your physical and mental health. How to start? Try replacing one item in your meal with a “natural, no ingredient-label” one. The key is to start small.
If you are like many of the millions of Americans who have years of consuming sugar and processed foods, fear not for there is action you can take. A recent UCLA study proved that adding Omega 3 fatty acids, specifically DHA, to your diet can help minimize the damage of consuming a high sugar diet. DHA strengthens synapses in the brain and enhances our memory and learning. If you can consume DHA naturally (wild salmon, fish oil, flaxseed, fruits, vegetables) it is best but if not, you can take a 1gram daily supplement.
Say YES to Coffee
A 2018 study has proven your cup of coffee is good for your brain. The caffeine in coffee contains adenosine which may increase the brain’s capacity for processing information in addition to increasing alertness. Researchers discovered that caffeine causes an increase in “brain entropy”, which refers to variable and complex activity. When the entropy is high, the brain can process more information. Coffee is also a source of antioxidants, which helps brain function as you get older.
Start your journey to a healthier and more productive brain today by trying out one if not all of the above. A healthy diet improves brain productivity.
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