Nutrition For Brain Function - 4 Factors To Help You Stay Sharp

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We asked High Performance coach Pat Divilly for his advice on how to fuel our bodies and brains to #staysharp.

What’s on our plates has changed perhaps more in the last 50 years than it has in the thousands before.

The demands we place on our bodies and brains increase constantly so it is important to ensure the food on our plates offers the best fuel for both brain and body.

Some simple changes to what you consume can bring a substantial improvement to your mood, energy levels and sleep in a few short weeks. Here are four small changes that could bring you big results.

  1. Fill your plate with brain fuel

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Research shows that the best foods for your brain are the same ones that protect your heart and blood vessels.  Part fill your plate with at least five vegetables of different color each day.  Buy those in season and grown locally where possible.  These will be fresher and will have landed on your plate with a smaller environmental impact, the green leafy ones (kale, cabbage, broccoli, spinach) contain a mix of magnesium, vitamin K, lutein, folate, and beta carotene.  Put Fatty fish (freshly cooked salmon or mackerel, or tinned salmon or tuna) on your plate twice weekly and you’ll benefit from their abundant quantities of omega-3 fatty acids.  Fresh fruit and nuts especially berries and walnuts are also known to be brain boosting.

2. Take Essential Fats every day

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A few diets have been promoted specifically for improving brain power. One of the most rigorously studied of these eating plans, the Mediterranean Diet, is considered to be one of the healthiest.  By consuming a large quantity of healthy oils and fish, the Mediterranean’s are getting Essential Fatty Acids (EFA’s) such as Omega 3, 6 & 9 each day. These are crucial for brain development and performance, helping you stay sharp throughout the day. You need to ensure you are getting enough in your diet as your body does not make EFA’s.  In addition to oily fish, nuts and seeds (mentioned above) by consuming an oil blend such as Udo’s Choice Oil daily you’ll enrich your body with EFA’s.  I mix it into my morning smoothie and take the capsules with me whenever travelling.  It’s an ideal source of EFA’s for those of you who are vegan and it’s also organic.  Also a key ingredient in Udos Oil is flax seed, which has a much higher concentration of Omega 3’s than fish oil.

3. Increase your Exercise and Oxygen levels

Our brains consume about 20% of the oxygen we breathe, and by exercising we help increase both our blood flow and the oxygen levels in our brain.  That’s why we feel good after exercising. Regular exercise helps maintain brain function. Research has shown that brain activity increases and memory improves immediately after even a short, single bout of exercise. I suggest you begin at a low exercise intensity level increase your physical effort over time and then maintain it consistently.  Doing so could lead to positive brain effects.

4. Hydrate 

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At least sixty per cent of the human body and brain is made up of water and so even just 1% dehydration can bring a dramatic effect to how you function physically and mentally. Look to drink at least 2 liters of water daily to stay hydrated. Form the habit of carrying a refillable bottle of water with you as a reminder to hit your target daily. Also consider leaving water in the car, at the front door and anywhere else you’ll frequently be spending time.

Make some of these changes to your diet and exercise regime and see how they help change your mood, energy level and your ability to stay sharp throughout the day.

Take part in the ‘Upgrade Your Mindset’ Udo’s Choice Challenge, a simple two week program designed to help you form new empowering habits that support the body, brain and mind. Pick up an ‘Upgrade Your Mindset’ Udo’s Choice Challenge booklet in Health Stores and Pharmacies, or visit udoschoice.ie to find out more.

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