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The best brain food to add to your diet

June 4, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
Scientific research finds that the brain responds to nutrition in a very powerful way. What you put on your plate can affect your mood and how fast you think.Along with taste, many of us worry about what to eat for energy, but give little thought on how to feed our brain.

UCLA neurosurgeon Dr. Neil Martin says the brain, which is made up mostly of fat, wants select foods for ultimate performance beginning with the best lipids or fats it can find. This includes omega three fats found in walnuts, flax seed, and wild salmon along with a diet high in antioxidant foods.

"The brain is so tremendously metabolically active that it generates free radicals just like you do when you exercise, just like you do when you age," said Martin.

On the flip side, to prevent brain drain, lose the typical American high fat, high sugar diet as that kind of intake suppresses nerve growth.

"It will impair your ability think, it will impair your memory," said Martin.

You may have heard carbohydrates can boost serotonin, a chemical in the brain that when elevated makes us feel happy even more relaxed, but watch out! Not all carbohydrates are the same.

"I think the next big thing in nutrition is not going to be calorie counting. It's not going to be. It's going to be ORAC," said Martin.

ORAC is the acronym for the index that measures antioxidant content. Antioxidants are found mostly in carbohydrate foods like blueberries, colorful produce, nuts, grains, even spices like Tumeric and cumin, which are critical in neutralizing free radicals so the more you eat, the better.

But since most of us don't eat right all the time, Martin also favors taking a good vitamin B complex, vitamin D and an omega three fat supplement as well.

"Eat the way your mother told you. Get plenty of exercise and stay away from all the things that poison your brain like cigarette smoking, excess alcohol and substance abuse," said Martin.


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