When intellect is your most prized attribute, keeping it sharp is one of your number one priorities. Knowing what to eat to keep your brain humming along at peak efficiency can be tough. Energy drinks, meal replacement bars, and protein shakes have all been known to make wild claims of increasing mental alertness and stamina. However, without the FDA backing these statements, they are dubious at best and outright lies at worst.
The most important fact to keep in mind is that your brain uses a steady supply of glucose for full-throttle operation. Note the word ‘steady’. A lot of the products on the market give you one huge whack of sugar. Perusing the label will show huge quantities of carbohydrates and sugars. Not only is this horrible for your liver to content with, it also leads to obesity which carries with it a horde of brain-numbing complications. So what should you eat? I’ve got you covered.
Wild-Caught Fish and Seafood
The media likes to shriek a lot about the endangerment of several species of fish in the wild. While it’s true some species are suffering from overfishing, it is also a simple matter to stick to the plentiful species such as crab, Australian Salmon, squid, calamari, oysters, and Western Rock Lobster. I’ve found a compilation of lists, detailing which species are in no danger, the over-fished, and the ones to absolutely avoid.
Farm-raised fish are only a good alternative if wild-caught is not offered in your area. Fish farms pack enormous amounts of fish into smaller spaces, increasing the risk of disease. Also, they have been shown to have larger amounts of cancer-causing agents such as DDT and methylmercury in them. Add in the fact that they are fed antibiotics as a matter of course and you can see why wild-caught is the healthier option.
The benefits of fish and seafood are varied. The low fat content keeps blood vessels clear, allowing more oxygen-rich blood to reach the brain and oxygen-depleted blood to be circulated out quickly. What fat they do contain is much healthier than that of pork, chicken, or beef, and is found in lower quantities. The New York Times published a short article detailing the benefits of fish in mental acuity and memory tests, as well as its consumption effects on the unborn. All studies point to wild-caught, low-mercury fish as the brain superfood.
Like fish, nuts are high in healthy oils and fats. The benefits of these properties are lowered instances of heart disease, diabetes, and stroke, all of which can rob you of your mental mastery or, worse, kill you. Studies have shown that people who eat five or more one-ounce portions of nuts have lowered levels of bad cholesterol (LDL) and higher levels of good cholesterol (HDL). An article here breaks down these healthful properties in larger detail and also provides great ideas for incorporating nuts into your daily diet.
If you’re allergic to nuts or live with someone who is, certain seeds also carry these same properties. Pumpkin, flax, poppy and even chia seeds are all nutritional powerhouses that will lower your risk of cardiovascular disease and keep you trim. In turn, your brain can function at its highest capacity well into your geriatric years, allowing you to teach your great-grandkids the joys of ‘super old-school’ gaming and coding.
Adding wild-caught fish and seafood, nuts, and seeds into your daily diet is nirvana for your brain. Look for ways to incorporate these foods and your chances of being sharp as a razor well past retirement increase exponentially. After all, no matter what your specialty, someone is going to have to show the new generation of whippersnappers how it’s done!