Tips for making the most of your mental faculties…
From time to time, we all have days where we wake up with the mental capacity of a sleepy three year old (I’m actually experiencing one right now). The synapses are sluggish, the neurons fizzle rather than fire, and making even the simplest of decisions feels like trying to wade through custard. Inevitably of course, our brains tend to choose the most inconvenient days possible to fail us; big exam today? Time to forget everything you’ve ever learned! Important presentation at work? Here, lose your grasp of basic English and develop a temporary stutter. Thanks, brain.
My friends, don’t allow those comatose craniums of yours to hold you back any longer! Here are a few delicious brain-food ideas for keeping the old noggin sharp and ready for action.
I thought I’d get this one out of the way first, as personally I’d be happy to spend the remainder of my life in a cognitive fog rather than eat any of this slimy sea-dwelling fodder. But as I’m sure we are all aware (after all, omega-3 is soo in right now), it is the best possible source of essential fatty acids, which are key to healthy brain function. Anything from a fillet of salmon to a tin of pilchards should help to oil up your creaky brain nicely.
For those of you who, like me, avoid seafood like the plague, other (sadly less valuable) sources of omega-3 can be found in flaxseed oil, pumpkin seeds, walnut oil and soya beans. Tasty.
Feeling a little out of sorts? As B.A. Baracus would say; ‘Get some nuts!’ Nuts and seeds are (reportedly) mood-stabilising, insomnia-relieving, memory-improving and age-defying! All seems a little too good to be true…but it can’t hurt to give it a try, right? Go grab your daily dose of vitamin E now, although I wouldn’t perhaps suggest a Snickers bar as the most ideal source of nutty goodness.
Allergic to nuts? Vitamin E can be found hiding in many other delicious places, such as leafy green veggies, olives, eggs and wholegrains.
You know when you were growing up, and your parents would tell you to eat your vegetables because they would help you grow big and strong? Well, when it comes to broccoli, they weren’t kidding. It may not give you super powers, but in the brain department this is one veggie hero that won’t let you down! Vitamin K is meant to help boost brainpower and cognitive function. Also, you can pretend it’s a tiny forest and you’re a giant (maybe that’s just me).
If small edible shrubbery isn’t your cup of tea, you can also find vitamin K in other leafy greens, vegetable oils, and cereals.
Caffeine addicts will no doubt be overjoyed to hear that their morning cup o’ Joe may actually have benefits other than simply imbuing the drinker with the ability to make it out of bed in the morning. Your favourite mug of warm liquid energy is also reported to reduce the risk of mental decline and dementia. Moreover, the coffee bean is chock full of antioxidants and vitamins.
Regrettably, I should probably also point out that adding four tonnes of cream and sugar into your brew may negate the positive effects somewhat. Sorry.
Apparently the energy we acquire from beans is released slowly throughout the day, meaning a long-lasting boost in brainpower. And what with beans being a staple ingredient in so many everyday dishes, it couldn’t be easier to incorporate them into your daily diet. If you’re looking for slow-release energy from another source, other low GI foods include oats, vegetables, pasta and, surprisingly, milk chocolate!
Speaking of chocolate, and as if we really needed any further motivation to eat it, the nation’s favourite unhealthy snack does actually offer a variety of unexpected health benefits. Dark chocolate is full of antioxidants and helps to improve concentration, and can also lower levels of the hormones linked to stress and anxiety, while milk chocolate is supposed to help boost memory and reaction speed! Sadly, white chocolate (my favourite) doesn’t quite match up to its darker brothers in this department.
Finally, I have a small confession to make; ironically, this blog post actually took quite a while, and a truly unreasonable amount of mental exertion for me to write. I think perhaps it’s time for me to go off and concoct a delicious recipe containing each and every one of the above ingredients, as my brain is clearly sorely in need of a boost! That chocolate pudding in particular is going to be a huge chore I’m sure.