Your Brain and Food

child development

You are what you eat, and what you eat helps your body grow and develop in amazing ways. Even adults can continue developing and growing, especially when it comes to your brain. Several foods are extremely beneficial in aiding the brain to develop healthfully from birth through adulthood, and also assist with the aging brain, too.

The brain thrives on several elements, mainly glucose, vitamins, minerals, and other essential chemicals, with glucose, or a simple sugar that is one of the main components in carbohydrates, being the most essential. Glucose encourages the brain to create new connections and add myelin, or the fatty sheath to axons. Axons are long threadlike parts of nerve cells where impulses are conducted from cell body to other cells. If the brain receives too much of one component or not enough of another, it is not able to function properly or create new connections.

Brain Development

From birth, the brain is ready for rich nutrients to aide in the healthy development of the central nervous system. At birth, the brain contains 100 billion neurons, the most the brain will ever have. Along with all those neurons, synapses, or connections between brain cells, are also rapidly developing. And, once born, infant’s that are breast-fed have a slight cognitive advantage over formula-fed babies. Diet is not the only thing essential to an infant’s developing brain. Those raw brain cells are ready to soak up as much information as possible, and engaging in interactive play and providing lots of physical affection aides in healthy development, too.

Once a child hits adolescence, the brain undergoes another big growth spurt – correlating with the body’s development. During these essential years, the teenager begins making more and more decisions for herself, including what she likes and dislikes eating. Through MRI research, it has been found the teenager’s brain goes through a “use-it-or-lose-it” phase where if certain neurons have not been exercised they are lost. The frontal lobe goes through great developments during this time and encouraging healthy eating habits aides in the brain’s development as well as the teenager’s day-to-day functioning.  There are even fun ways to sneak those healthy foods into school lunches that will not cause teens to toss their lunch but actually enjoying eating brain-boosting foods.

In older adulthood, memory can be boosted through various exercises, even meditation, but is greatly enhanced through proper diet. The adult brain continues to grow and develop and is greatly expanded by outside stimuli. Participating in new and different activities, staying social, getting a good night sleep, and exercising play a role. But, eating a healthy diet and maintaining proper hydration is what keeps the brain ticking. Fresh fruits and vegetables should be a main part of any adult’s diet.

Brain-Food Diet

No matter what your age, there are simple ways to change your diet to include brain-boosting foods the whole family will love. As adults, enjoying fresh fruits and vegetables models positive eating behaviors to children and encourages them to try new things. Other foods rich in healthy brain boosters include:

-Salmon: Not only is this fish full of flavor, it is packed with omega-3 fatty acids, which helps brain cells function at their best. Tuna and sardines are also fishy options high in omega-3. Adding salmon into a family meal is as easy as broiling fillets, or adding canned salmon to your favorite pasta.

-Blueberries: These small sweet and tart berries are full of antioxidants and are rich in Vitamins C and E. Antioxidants fight aging as well as the effects of free radicals, which are unstable molecules found in everyday items and are also created in the human body during metabolism. Without antioxidants to fight them, free radicals can reek havoc on the body and speed the aging process. Adding blueberries to your morning cereal or even to a fresh salad adds a touch of sweetness as well as lots of brain-boosting power.

-Nuts: Along with seeds, nuts are full of fiber and lots of beneficial fats. A handful of nuts or seeds provides the body with long-term energy through their high concentration of complex carbohydrates and Vitamin E. The healthy carbohydrates found in nuts boost the brain productivity and alertness. Offering nuts or seeds as a snack keeps hunger away and is a healthy option instead of chips. Almonds are the best choice, with peanuts offering the least amount of healthy fat than any other type of nut.

-Green vegetables: Although not everyone’s favorite, green, leafy veggies are an essential component for a brain-boosting diet. Fresh vegetables are full of antioxidants, which along with fighting free radicals also reduce the risk of developing cognitive impairments. The best bets are spinach, Brussels sprouts, and broccoli. Even if you are not a fan, adding chopped fresh spinach to pasta creates a healthy meal, and creating a purée of steamed broccoli makes a fun and different side dish for any meal.

So, what are you waiting for? Start adding some healthy brain-boosting foods to your diet today.

About the author -

Sarah Lipoff

Sarah is an art educator and parent. You can visit her website here.

One Response to Your Brain and Food

  1. Xristoforos says:

    d81FIrst off, I just want to say, KNOW what you’re getting into. Sugar Gliders can be a pet that’s very reirwdang, but often difficult to take care of, and I beleive it was 70% (maybe more) of new sugar glider owners get rid of theirs within the first year, or very shortly after.I started off with one (what I thought was a female) I found her on craigslist (which, don’t get me wrong, can be a great place to find pets, but people are often inexperienced, and it’s bets to only rely on CL if you are an expert and know what you’re doing, and what you’re looking for) The previous owners told me they had only had her for about 6 months, but it was too much of a dedication for them, and with small children in the house, they couldn’t handle it. I didn’t think much of it because this was a pet I REALLY wanted. I was 15 at the time, and didn’t know much at all about these animals, only things I had researched online. I noticed that she was developing a bald spot on the middle of her forhead, and doing further research, I found out that she was actually a HE and this was his scent gland developing. I then decided I wanted to get into breeding, and that my current suggie needed a friend. I drove almost out of state to get this female, who was supposedly a proven breeder. I took her home and they almost instantly bonded. Although, A fight coul’ve easily ensued, and one or both of them could’ve very easily died if they got into it. So it is a must to have a slow introduction process if your sugar gliders don’t previously live together.I then drove 8 hours with a friend to pick up some animals from a small breeder. A chinchilla for her, and another female for me. (hopefully this one would produce babies) I took her home and that completed my trio of gliders.I quickly realized that I had gotten in way over my head. They bark constantly at night, and their barks can be heard from any location in the house. There’s usually no stopping the barks. You must prepare fresh meals for them at each and every mealtime. This includes cutting fruits, veggies, etc. and sometimes making them special mixes. Doesn’t sound so bad at first, but after months of doing this once or twice daily, it gets tiring. And their smell, is horrid. If you have a large cage, that’s cleaned many times weekly, it’s not so bad, but when you walk into the room after a day or two of not cleaning the cage, it’s horrendous.If you think you’re getting a pet that’ll be more than willing to come out and play with you whenever you want, you’re wrong. They’re only going to be up from about 11 p.m. to about 3 or 4 in the morning. If you try to disturb them before THEY decide it’s time to get up, you will often get a loud crabbing noise in return (which can be quite terrifying to newcomers) or a quick bite on the hand/arm/etc. If you can get past all this, then a sugar glider may be the pet for you. They can be wonderful, loving pets, IF you take the time to bond with them. They sell special sugar glider bonding pouches that can be helful with some gliders, but with others, it’s completely useless. Good luck on your quest, and feel free to e-mail me with any questions.

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