Back to school brain food

September 2, 2019 6:21 am Published by Leave your thoughts

Back to school – but is your brain ready? Firing on all cylinders? Or perhaps a little sluggish after the long summer break? Well, smarten up! You’ll need it to be as sharp as your pencils and as fully charged as your calculator – and we’re here to help you!

Is your brain as sharp as your pencil?

Hungry brains

Our brains need to be fed, and fed well: a significant proportion of all the energy we consume is directed towards them. Our brains use, for instance, one-fifth of all the blood pumped by our hearts, so it’s vital that the resources they draw on are the best they can be. Certain foods (and drinks) have proven benefits for our brains. This September, perhaps it’s time to put some of them to the test!

What works for brains?

Wholegrains

Our brains are fuelled by glucose, which comes from carbohydrates. These carbohydrates should be complex and wholegrain, allowing our brains to function in a stable manner, and avoiding sudden surges and deficits in energy. Wholegrains are also high in vitamins and minerals, which help our brains convert the components of our diet to perform their necessary functions. At Naturally Good Food we have a wonderful wholefoods section, including a great range of wholegrains, like rice, pasta and quinoa.

Beetroot juice

Beetroot juice: beetroot juice contains nitrates, which are converted to nitrites in our bodies. These help to open blood vessels, promoting the flow of oxygen round the body, and particularly, to the brain. Super-athletes drink beetroot juice to boost their bodily performance, but also to give themselves a mental advantage, hoping to be able to think more quickly and strategically than their opponents. Beetroot juice is also highly recommended for the elderly, to help with alertness. If you think you might struggle with the flavour, then try some of our ‘mixed’ beetroot juices, such as beetroot with ginger or beetroot with passionfruit. Click here to see our full range.

Turmeric

Get cooking a curry! Turmeric contains the antioxidant curcumin, which is reckoned to boost memory and stimulate the production of new brain cells.

Oily fish

Most people have heard of the benefits of oily fish for the brain. Oily fish is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which, together with omega-6 fatty acids, form 20% of the dry weight of the brain. We can only receive these fatty acids from our diet. Click here to see our range of salmon, herring, mackerel and other fish, from Fish4ever.

Linseed

Linseed is a particularly good source of omega-3 fatty acids. Sprinkle these seeds onto muesli or add them to shakes, smoothies or baking. Click here to see our selection of linseed (also known as flaxseed).

Pumpkinseed

Pumpkinseeds are another good brain food – and a seed that’s really easy to incorporate into your diet, being deliciously nibble-able. Pumpkinseeds are high in zinc, which is vital for keeping your memory up to speed.

Walnuts

Walnuts are another fine source of omega fatty acids. Great as a snack, they also work well in both savoury and sweet dishes. Click here to see our range of walnuts.

Almonds

Almonds contain a wealth of vitamin E, which is believed to help stop cognitive decline. They’re also one of the very easiest nuts to eat, with their sweet, delicate flavour!

Oats

Serotonin, an important brain chemical (and perhaps the nicest, being the one that makes us feel most content and promotes sleep), is made from the amino acid tryptophan, which is found in oats. Time for porridge, perhaps? Click here to see our range of oats, which includes standard and jumbo, as well as gluten-free oats.

Blueberries

You can’t argue with something nicknamed ‘brainberries’! Research has found that eating blueberries may protect against age-related conditions of the brain, such as Alzheimers and dementia. There’s evidence that eating them helps improve memory and delays short-term memory loss. Apparently, they can also significantly improve the learning capacity of rats. While that may not be good thing, they’re probably worth a shot for humans! We stock dried blueberries, blueberry juice and compote, and a range of other goods containing blueberries.

Coconut oil

Coconut oil contains medium-chain triglycerides, which themselves contain ketone bodies. It’s thought that ketone bodies can help restore neurons and nerve function in the brain.

Dried (and fresh) fruit

Foods rich in vitamin C are thought to improve mental agility – and our dried fruit gives you a good dose of this vital element. Supplement our dried fruit with our lovely fruit compotes (better for you than a chocolate bar for pudding) and our wonderfully refreshing range of fruit juices.

A quick brain fix?

Most of these foods aren’t quick fixes. You’ll need to take them steadily and often for them to have any impact. If you do need a sudden boost of brain power, however, go straight to the first section on our list – wholegrains and other wholefoods. With their slow releasing energy and abundance of fibre, wholefoods should be at the basis of all our diets. Boosting our bodies and our brains, these foods give you the fuel to solve a tricky trigonometry problem, to decipher a fictional character’s motivation, to learn a whole list of French vocabulary – and all the rest!

Naturally Good Reads v2

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This post was written by Yzanne

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