Great Brain Foods
This is a quick article on how certain foods can help your brain with memory and concentration.
If you are looking for the best food to keep your brain working at peak performance start with fish (salmon), it is high on omega 3. As you keep reading further, you will find additional food categories that will enhance your brain.
It is very important to remember that how you prepare and eat your food will also affects the way the body and brain uses it. Eating sugary food after a meal of legumes, for example, may slow the absorption of the sugar and prevent the "sugar blues." Fats can also slow sugar absorption, so ice cream will have a lower glycemic index than low fat yogurt with sugary fruit. Over-cooking some starches can be similar to pre-digesting them, thus causing them to feed their sugars into the blood too quickly.
Proteins affect brain performance because they provide amino acids, from which neurotransmitters are made. Neurotransmitters carry signals from one brain cell to another. The better you feed these messengers, the more efficiently they deliver the goods. The amino acids tryptophan and tyrosine, are precursors of neurotransmitters, the substances from which neurotransmitters are made. Tryptophan is an essential amino acid and it must be obtained from the diet. Tyrosine is not an essential amino acid because the body can make it if need be.
Some high protein, low carbohydrate, high tyrosine foods that are likely to stir up the brain are seafood, meat, eggs, soy, and dairy. High carbohydrate, low protein, high tryptophan foods that are likely to calm the brain include: pastries and desserts, bean burritos, chocolate, nuts and seeds (e.g., almonds, filberts, sunflower and sesame seeds), and legumes.
The best brain foods are complex carbohydrates. The molecules in these are long, so it takes longer for the intestines to break them down into the simple sugars the body can use. Because of this, they provide a source of steady energy rather than a surge followed by a plunge.
The rate at which sugar from a food enters brain cells and other cells is measured by the "glycemic index" (GI). Foods with a high glycemic index stimulate the pancreas to secrete a lot of insulin , which starts the roller coaster ride up and down. Foods with a low glycemic index don't push the pancreas to secrete much insulin, so blood sugar levels are steady for a longer period.
Fruits: grapefruit, apples, cherries, oranges, and grapes have a low glycemic index. Whole fruit ranks lower than juices, because fiber in the fruit slows the absorption of fruit sugar.
Cereals and grains: oatmeal and bran are best. Spaghetti and rice have a relatively low GI. Corn flakes sugar-coated cereals, and white bread have higher GIs.
Vegetables and legumes: Legumes, including soybeans, kidney beans, chick peas, and lentils are great brain foods. They have the lowest glycemic index of any food. Potatoes and carrots have a much higher GI.
Dairy products: Milk products have low glycemic indexes; higher than legumes, but lower than fruits.
People bodies will respond differently to different ratios of protein to carbohydrates in meals, and there are also subtle sensitivities (not quite allergies) to foods that vary from person to person. By now it will be up to you to experiment using a variety of foods. Keep it simple and please do not get so confuse using the glycemic index table that you give up before really experiencing the results.
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