I often get confused as to what I should eat to keep my brain working well, protein or carbohydrates. And what about sugar and fats - should I have some or not. Here's what I can make out of the latest research;
Protein - Eating protein increases mental alertness. It has something to do with the supply of neurotransmitters. Strawberries, blueberries and spinach has been shown to reverse the deterioration of our thinking ability. Even better still, dark chocolate has 10 times the flavonols of these 'mind foods'. (I know what I am going to eat but remember, it does have sugar.)
Carbohydrates - You need some of these but only in the morning because you need slow release Carbs to keep your energy levels up across the day. Unprocessed carbs are the best.
Fats - Eliminate as much saturated fats as you can as these clog your arteries. You do need some for your brain, low-fat diets have been found to increase accidents, depression and suicides. Unsaturated fats are needed to keep your brain functioning, without them your brain cells will actually die.
Sugar - We crave sugars when we are tired or over-anxious. Refined sugar is fast acting therefore the calming effect is immediate. Unfortunately processed sugars produce excessive amounts of insulin and that is not good for you. It also increases your craving of sugar!
So where does this leave you, cringing at what you should and shouldn't eat like me? Here's a quick guide for brain food;
· Start breakfast with whole grain toast and an egg - the processed carbs will release slowly across the day and you need protein at every meal.
· Eat complex carbs in the morning - fruit, salad, raw vegetables and proteins like fish or poultry.
· For extra brain power – eat eggs, oily fish such as salmon or mackerel and stewed unsweetened fruits.
· Graze all day - rather than have three square (huge) meals a day, have three moderate meals and snack in between on protein foods such as yoghurt, cheese, nuts and seeds.
Remember, eat smaller portions more often. If you are still confused, join the club. The suggestions above are to help your brain - which is my area of interest.
A good guide for me is to eat food that is as close to natural as possible.