Brain Gain: Nutritional Benefits from Food for Mental Health

In my long experience with making food (and enjoying it!), I’ve tinkered with a wide array of dietary plans designed to suit the daily needs of an individual. It’s a given that anyone can easily get vitamins and minerals from fruits and vegetables, giving the body what it needs to recuperate and grow healthy. Eating healthy meats such as lean beef and fish is a great way to provide protein for your muscles to grow. However, there is more than meets the eye regarding these foods and how they are prepared.

braingain

Simply put, there are foods and supplements that give better than average benefits, targeting specific health conditions or body parts. As such, the most important foods to look out for are foods that can help with mental health, and ultimately boost mental performance – since your mental health is indeed significant in everyday living.

This is why I found it imperative that I discover all the ways to maintain my mental health in the best way possible. It’s time to take in some brain food, know what you are getting from them, and even consider some supplements. Here is a run-down of the much needed vitamins and nutrients for keeping the brain healthy and functioning well.

DHA and Omega 3

Our brain functions by way of the neurons or nerve cells found in them. Keeping neurons and their connections maintained means that the brain can work steadily. But, how exactly do we do that?

Eating foods that are rich in Docosahexaenoic acid or DHA does the job. DHA is the major polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) in the brain and is a structural component of neuronal membranes. An adequate level of DHA in cell membranes is important for many functions of neural cells

dha-omega-3

One of the best foods for consuming DHA is fish. Fish like salmon, mackerel, tuna, and others are rich in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, which are actually very good for the brains. Conversely, cell membranes with abundant omega 3 fatty acids are associated with lowered rates of not only heart disease and diabetes, but also depression. Yes, by eating fish, you are less likely to be depressed.

A study by the Medical College of Qingdao University in China took a closer look at the potential impact a steady diet of fish could have with regard to a person’s risk of depression. In the study, the participants who ate the most fish had an average of 17 percent reduction in depression risk compared to those who ate the least amount of fish. When researchers broke down the gender differences, men had a 20 percent lower risk of depression, while women had a 16 percent lower risk. Not only was there a correlation between fish diets and depression, but researchers also believe it could be used as a way to prevent or stave off depression symptoms before they start.

omega3

There are many ways we can prepare a dish made out of fish. In fact, I like to get creative in its preparation. Salmon is always enjoyable to prepare since I can bake it, grill it and marinade it with my choice of sauce. Almost every time I have fish on my menu, I get to savor that rich meat because of its healthy fat. The same goes with tuna as we can prepare tuna casserole or even put it into a taco for eating on the go.

Vitamin E

With over 90% of Americans not consuming RDA for vitamin E, and most people eating less than half of the RDA they should, there exists a significant opportunity to educate consumers on the benefits of this nutrient for brain health.

There are many forms of vitamin E. Recent data from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm states that all plasma Vitamin E forms may play a role in brain health. It is then quickly backed up by a paper published in the Neurobiology of Aging, saying that the risk of mild cognitive impairment or MCI was 15% lower in people with the highest levels of vitamin E.  Likewise, there is a link to vitamin E with Alzheimer’s disease. Participants with MCI and Alzheimer’s also displayed higher blood levels of markers of vitamin E damage.

Kale, collard greens, spinach, and broccoli are good sources of vitamin E and folate. For example, one cup of raw spinach has 15% of our daily intake of vitamin E, and 1/2 a cup of cooked spinach has 25% of our daily intake. Exactly how folate may protect the brain is unclear, but it may be by lowering levels of an amino acid known as homocysteine in the blood. High levels of homocysteine may trigger the death of nerve cells in the brain, but folic acid helps break down homocysteine levels.

vitamine

Although both are high in fat, peanuts and peanut butter tend to be a source of healthy fats. They are also packed with vitamin E. Both foods may help keep the heart and brain healthy and functioning properly.

Other good choices are almonds and hazelnuts. I love preparing leafy greens because the fruits and vegetables can be varied according to preference. I usually upgrade my regular Caesar’s Salad by adding my preferred dressing and some almonds to enrich the taste.

Nootropic Compounds

There are various ways we can go about being mentally healthy and improving mental performance. An easy and effective way that I learned is by using Nootropics.

Many supplements that support mental health are used today mainly because of the benefits that may be reaped from them such as improved memory and speed of recall, enhanced learning capacity and attention span, increased mental energy, focus, concentration and clarity of thought. These pills are scientifically known as Nootropics but are often known as ‘Smart Pills’. These pills can also aid in some mental cases such as anxiety, depression and symptoms of other serious mental illnesses.

This supplement may prove to be a real life limitless pill. As for me, it kept me sharp and mentally stable while I go about doing my job and regular day. I suggest that you try Nootropics like Noopept which is did marvels for me. I really felt that it improved my cognitive skills and kept me feeling alert and happy all day along.

noopept

There are other benefits to taking smart pills. For example, if a person is suffering from anxiety, they can get L-Theanine from the local pharmacy. Most of L-theanine’s effects have to do with promoting relaxation and positively affecting mood. Since they have access to the central nervous system, psychoactive substances, such as L-theanine, are believed to have the ability to affect mental abilities and psychological states. Also, it is thought to have a stronger effect when combined with caffeine.

By the way, these drugs are in fact legal and are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration or FDA. Noopept is 100% legal in the United States. You can lawfully purchase, possess and use it. That means that you won’t get in trouble for buying it, even if you purchase it over the internet or from another country.

Why Organic Foods are Safer and Healthier

Why Organic Foods are Safer and Healthier

Fully committing yourself to healthy eating is the first – and greatest – step towards a holistically healthier life. Then again, what does it really mean to completely commit to yourself and healthy eating? More than just eating more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, good fats, and other innately healthy food, however, you have to consider the question of food safety, nutritional content and sustainability of food choices. The thing is, you have to ponder upon the idea of how foods are grown or raised and how it affects not only your health, but the safekeeping of other people and the environment, too.

organic tomatoes

This is where organic foods rule.

They’re Free of Harsh Chemicals

The term “organic” denotes the way agricultural products were grown and processed. Organic crops are grown in safe soil with no modifications (e.g. artificial vitamin enhancements) and are usually separated from conventional products. Farmers who tend to these organic crops are not allowed to use synthetic pesticides, bioengineered genes (e.g. Genetically Modified Organisms or GMOs), petroleum-based fertilizers, and sewage sludge-based fertilizers.

Meanwhile, organic livestock are also as natural as it could get: these livestock must have access to the outdoors and be given only organic feed and nothing else, and they may never be given antibiotics, growth hormones, or any animal by-products.

The best thing about it is how “personal” organic foods can get.

Say you live in New York and would want to grow your own organic farm around its concrete jungles, or you live in Australia and want to have great usage of your new backyard and new storage units from Perth Metro Storage, you can easily build and supervise your own mini-farm of organic produce. The only factor that could stop you from home-growing your organic food is your own determination (or lack thereof). Since you can grow your own organic food, you can fully monitor how it is processed and take care of your own consumption as you plant, grow, and prepare it for eating.

organic farming

Organic foods provide a variety of benefits. This then brings up the important questions to ask: What are the advantages that organic foods bring to the table? What is the difference between organic foods and conventionally grown foods? Are organic foods really the best? Are GMOs safe or are they really bad? What about locally grown foods?

Organic Foods Are More Nutrient-Dense

Some studies even show how organic foods have more beneficial nutrients, such as antioxidants, than their conventionally grown counterparts. Not to mention consumers that have certain allergies to some foods, chemicals, and preservatives often find their symptoms lessen or totally go away when they exclusively go for organic foods.

Organic produce are guaranteed to be safe from pesticide-related food poisoning. Pesticides, such as fungicides, herbicides, and insecticides, are chemicals that are widely used in conventional agriculture. It produces residues that remain on (and in) the food that normal people have access to. The problem with pesticide laden food is the risk that they provide for consumers in terms of natural poisoning.

organic farming sign

Instead of synthetic pesticides or fertilizers, organic farmers completely rely on biological diversity in the farming field to naturally reduce habitat for pest organisms. They do this by keeping the farm as clean as possible, and using natural repellants such as scarecrows. Organic farmers also see to it that they resolutely maintain and replenish the fertility of the soil.

What are the possible risks of pesticides, anyway? How come people have always relied on pesticides but do not see the symptoms right away?

Some studies show that the use of pesticides – even at low doses – increases the risk of certain cancers, i.e. lymphoma, brain tumors, leukemia, breast cancer, and prostate cancer. Children and fetuses (through the consumption of the carrying mother) are most vulnerable to pesticide exposure because their immune systems, bodies, and brains are still under development. Exposure to these pesticides (especially when caught unknowingly) at an early age may cause developmental delays, behavioral disorders, autism, damage to the immune system, and motor dysfunction.

fruits and veggies

More importantly, pregnant women are more susceptible to the dangers of pesticides due to the fact that their body is already stressed about the pregnancy as it is. In addition, pesticides and their inherent negative effects can be easily passed to their child in the womb, as well as through breast feeding. While the symptoms will not be evident right of the bat, some exposures can cause delayed effects on the nervous system, even years after initial exposure.

Organic Foods Are Fresher

With regard to organic food, it is known that they are often fresher than their conventionally grown counterparts. Fresh food tastes better, and organic food is usually fresher because it doesn’t contain preservatives that make it last longer. Organic produce is often from smaller farms near where it is sold.

farmers market

Organic farming is also better for the environment since it promotes less pollution (air, water, soil), helps conserve water, reduces soil erosion, increases soil fertility, and uses less energy. Farming without pesticides is also better for nearby birds and small animals as well as people who live close to or work on farms.

Organically raised animals are never given antibiotics, growth hormones, or fed animal byproducts. As a rule of thumb, the use of antibiotics in conventional meat production helps create antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria, no matter how safe these antibiotics are bio-engineered. This means that when an animal gets sick from numerous kinds of strains, they will be less responsive to antibiotic treatment. Not feeding animal byproducts to other animals reduces the risk of these strains, such as the Mad Cow Disease. Moreover, the organically grown animals are given more space to move around and access to the outdoors, both of which help keep the animals naturally healthier and happier.

cows grazing

Organic Foods Are Free of Genetically Modified Organisms

Most importantly, organic food is GMO-free. Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) or genetically engineered (GE) foods are plants or animals whose DNA has been altered in ways that cannot occur in nature or in traditional crossbreeding. This is done because of the need to make produce more resistant to pesticides or produce an insecticide. In most countries, organic crops contain no GMOs and organic meat comes from animals raised on organic, GMO-free feed.

What is the problem, however, with GMOs? While the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and most of the biological technology companies that tinker on GMOs insist that they are safe, a lot of food safety advocates stress that these products have undergone only short-term testing to determine their effects on humans and the environment. They usually say that they were testing these GMOs in such a way that it will be surely approved. Since the technology is relatively new, there was never a dedicated long term study ever conducted to confirm the safety of GMO use. The problem is that some tests on animals have indicated that the consumption of GMOs may cause internal organ damage, slowed brain growth, and thickening of the digestive tract when studied in the long run.

GMOs have been linked to increased food allergies and gastrointestinal problems in humans. Many people think that altering the DNA of a plant or animal can also increase the chances of developing cancer. So far, research on the link between GMOs and serious disease has been found inconclusive.

The introduction of GMOs has had a profound effect on the level of pesticides present on and in our food, and potentially on the health of human beings and the environment. The thing about GMOs is that they were originally genetically engineered so they can withstand or repel the harsh effects of pesticides: it’s like they were bioengineered with higher herbicide tolerance. That being said, these crops are tolerant to the effects of pesticides on their own, but that does not guarantee that they can’t affect the consumer as well.

With all these things said and done, it makes sense to say that since GMOs are not natural, they pose more risks as compared to naturally grown crops.

At the end of the day, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.