Monday, August 9, 2010
FEED YOUR BRAIN SMARTLY WITH BRAIN FRIENDLY FOOD
At the onset, I must qualify explicitly that this funny caricature of the braindancer Dilip Mukerjea does not imply that you should eat your own brain (neither is my good friend!), although I am aware of one animal that does that.
It's the sea squirt.
According to what I understand, the sea squirt, also known as "dead man's fingers", is a small slug-like marine creature. Once, it has found an appropriate rock to set up home on, it has no further use for its brain, & digests it, thus becoming a stationary organism on the rock. [Biologically, it has both male & female reproductive organs. It spawns by releasing eggs & sperms into the water at the same time.]
Interestingly, as Dilip has pointed out in his many writings, this proves that the primary purpose of the brain is to produce movement.
In fact, more interestingly, but surprisingly, sea squirt is edible. The French eat it raw with lemon juice. It's also popular in Japan where tonnes are consumed annually.
Coming back to my focus, as outlined in the blogpost title, here is a quick reminder or rapid recap of some brain-friendly food:
[Dilip has written an extensive segment on this important aspect in his wonderful book, 'Unleashing Genius with the World's Most Powerful Learning Systems'. The excerpts can be found in this weblog.]
Good source of omega 3 fatty acids. Especially resourceful are the more oily fish such as salmon, tuna, sardines and herring. Found in smaller amounts in eggs, liver, kidney;
FUNCTION: Brain cell membranes are where nerve signals must pass. These membranes must be refreshed continuously. The benefits of omega 3 fatty acids (DHA) or fish oil, provides a fresh supply of fatty acids;
Great source of brain boosting vitamins. Found in whole grain bread, cereal, brown rice, pasta;
FUNCTION: Provides much needed B vitamins to the brain. B1 is essential for maintaining healthy nerve cells. B6 converts the tryptophan in our food to serotonin, a chemical our body produces to regulate our moods and sense of well-being;
Eggs, milk, cheese, yogurt - always moderate your consumption of dairy products;
FUNCTION: Protein keeps you alert;
Milk: Provides a source of vitamin B2 for efficient working of brain neurotransmitters;
Yogurt: Has vitamin B5, known for its anti-aging qualities and helps in transmission of nerve impulses. Also a source of B12, important for maintaining nervous tissue health and which assists in memory function;
Eggs: Source of choline - has been shown to enhance memory and minimize fatigue;
Walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, sunflower seeds, flax seed, sesame seeds, peanuts (avoid the salted versions);
MEAT, POULTRY, FISH:
Try to find free ranging ones. Animals raised in cages and force fed are usually also injected with chemicals which in turn you will ingest. Of course, moderation is key with these foods;
FUNCTION: Protein! Again, keeps you alert. Source of Vitamins B5, B6 and B12 (see above for function under Whole Grains and Dairy);
COLOURFUL FOOD: (No, not pizza)
Fruits & Veggies: Especially dark leafy greens, tomatoes, peppers, & berries;
FUNCTION: Contains folic acid (also called folate & folacin) which helps with production of serotonin (mood stabilizer);
By the way, to entertain those readers with the curiosity streak, just like me, here are some beautiful pictures of the sea squirt. More information about this weird but good-looking creature can be found at this link.