Feeding the mind with correct food improves brain performance
Feeding the mind with the correct food can improve brain performance, explains expert Paul McCambridge.
“Breakfast is essential for the brain’s cognitive function. An ideal breakfast I would recommend would include meat - beef, chicken, liver, pork - and nuts and ideally grass-fed, organic, which are high in Omega 3.
“When you hear experts talk about eating foods that give a slow and steady release of sugar into the blood, nothing gives a slower and steadier release in blood sugar than meat.”
Mr McCambridge, a personal trainer, advised it is best to avoid high, sugar foods (including some breakfast cereals) as your body burns these off at a faster pace resulting in a drop in blood sugar, causing fatigue and inhibiting your brain function.
“The best thing you can take is Omega 3, especially DHA,” he said. “It increases blood flow to the brain, aids memory. You need Omega 3 for your brain to work properly.”
Food which is rich in Omega 3 includes herring, mackerel, sardine, pilchard, walnuts, almonds and algae. You can also buy supplements with Omega 3 from health stores.
Mr McCambridge also advises limiting your intake of carbs - cakes, breads, cereals, pasta.
“An increase of carnitine (an amino acid that helps the body turn fat into energy) and Omega 3 will increase your attention and motivation,” he said.
“It’s also important to have a healthy gut as half the neurotransmitter functions in your brain function are actually made in your gut,” said Mr McCambridge.
Foods which are good for your gut include probiotics found in yogurt or health shops.
Fluid intake is also vital for the brain.
Mr McCambridge suggested to work out how much water you should be drinking on a daily basis, multiply your body weight in kilograms by 0.033, which will give you the amount of litres you need to consume ie if you are 10 stone (63.5kgs) you should have 1.9 litres a day.
If you don’t like water, the nutritionist recommends adding a slice of lime to flavour it or try coconut water.
“Hydration is key for mental focus. If you are dehydrated your brain will not function as well. Almost every function of your body is water dependent.”
And caffeine/energy drinks are not recommended as they provide a short-term lift, followed by a slump.
Other tips include regular exercise as it “promotes blood flow to your brain and helps improve focus”. He adds “there’s plenty of research to show that walking will increase brain function”.
“For someone stressed out doing exams, tai chi and a walk every other day will enhance your mental clarity.”
And finally “sleep is absolutely essential for brain function” as it is key in “memory retention”.
Mr McCambridge explained you should get between six and eight hours but it is the quality of the sleep that counts.
“You need to let your body get into a deep sleep. Remove all electrical items from the room and make the room as dark as possible as your body reacts to light.”
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Paul McCambridge is a personal trainer qualifed with the American College of Sports Medicine and the C.H.E.K Institute