What’s your favorite way to start your day? If you’re like most Americans (65%) it’s with a cup of coffee, or 2 (maybe even more)!
We are in LOVE with coffee…the smell, the taste, the warmth, the rush…we want to be caffeinated, in every sense of the word.
And while there are some health benefits to the bean, there are also some very real downsides that can not only leave us feeling jittery and anxious, we also have a reduced response to the “pick me up” effects of caffeine as our use becomes habitual. That means we have to drink more and more coffee to get the same effect, which might result in high blood pressure, stomach upset and even bone density loss!
What’s an ambitious, side-hustle specialist to do?
How ‘bout finding some alternatives that might give us the same feeling of alertness without the downsides of too much caffeine AND might provide some super-powerful added benefits? Sound good?
Let’s dive in.
First on our list is Blueberries! Yes, yes…we all have heard how great berries are for health: their anti-oxidant properties especially Vitamins C and K, their high fiber content…but have you ever heard of gallic acid? Me neither! It apparently is a compound found in several fruits and veggies but is especially high in berries and especially high in blueberries and is great for protecting our brains from degeneration and stress….I NEED blueberries!
Some of the antioxidants in blueberries have been found to accumulate in the brain and help improve communication between brain cells. That’s CRAZY!!!
Animal studies have shown that blueberries help improve memory and may even delay short-term memory loss. Once again…I need these!
As far as getting them into your diet…who would ever turn down a blueberry? Great on cereal, in smoothies, salads, or all by themselves as a snack. It’s easy to eat them…right?
Second is beets! I love beets, my husband hates them. What’s your stance on this humble root vegetable? So many people get intimidated by beets because they are a pain in the ass to prepare…peeling, boiling and all that red juice that you can’t get out of anything! That very pigment is what makes them so good for us!
They reduce inflammation, are high in cancer-protecting antioxidants and help rid your blood of toxins. The natural nitrates in beets actually boost blood flow to the brain, helping with mental performance and making us SMART.
Plus, during tough workouts, beets actually help boost energy and performance levels. Wow…is that enough to have you at least explore the possibility of adding beets to your diet?
The good news is that you can now buy “already done for you” beets: peeled, roasted or boiled and conveniently packaged. If that’s what it takes to have you eat them…BAM…there it is. I love them in an arugula salad.
Third, any dark green leafy green vegetable.
Turns out, Popeye was onto something with his spinach obsession. Getting regular helpings of leafy green brain foods — like spinach, kale, chard, lettuces, any green — can help keep dementia at bay according to new research.
In the study, which looked at the eating habits and mental ability of more than 950 older adults over five years, adults who ate a serving of leafy green veggies once or twice a day experienced slower mental deterioration than those who DIDN’T eat vegetables, even when factors like age, education and family history of dementia were factored in. Amazing!
Green, leafy vegetables are loaded with vitamins A and K (just one cup of kale has more than 684 percent of your recommended daily serving!), which help fight inflammation and keep bones strong. Reap the benefits of these brain foods with salads, stir fries and even smoothies mixed with greens.
I like to think of whatever I’m eating as a “delivery system” for more fruits and veg,
When it comes to brain power, greens should be on your plate or in your bowl or glass at every meal.
Fourth: Broccoli, dammit…mom was right! Broccoli is one of the best brain foods out there. Thanks to its high levels of vitamin K and choline, it will help keep your memory sharp.
K is a fat-soluble vitamin and is essential for forming something called sphingolipids, (say that 3 times, fast!) which is a type of fat that’s densely packed into brain cells. A few studies in older adults have linked a higher vitamin K intake to better memory.
Beyond vitamin K, broccoli contains a number of compounds that give it anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, which may help protect the brain against damage.
We like broccoli raw with hummus or in soups or salads. How do you broccoli?
Fifth: Pumpkin Seeds contain antioxidants that protect the body and brain from free radical damage.
They’re a great source of magnesium, iron, zinc and copper… minerals that really impact brain health:
- Zinc: is crucial for nerve signaling. Zinc deficiency has been linked to many neurological conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease, depression and Parkinson’s disease.
- Magnesium: is essential for learning and memory. Low magnesium levels are linked to many neurological diseases, including migraines, depression and epilepsy.
- Copper: Our brains use copper to help control nerve signals. When copper levels are out of whack, there’s a higher risk of neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease.
- Iron: Iron deficiency is often characterized by brain fog and impaired brain function.
Pumpkin seeds are high in these micronutrients, you can likely reap their benefits by adding pumpkin seeds to your diet.
Sixth: Oranges! Yum
You can get all the vitamin C you need in a day by eating one medium orange and this can be so key for our brain health cuz vitamin C is a key factor in preventing mental decline. Who knew?
Getting enough vitamin C-rich foods can shield us from age-related mental decline and Alzheimer’s disease.
Vitamin C is also a powerful antioxidant that helps fight off the free radicals that can damage brain cells. Plus, vitamin C supports brain health as we age. Wow!
These 6 foods should be super simple to get into your diet regularly and could impact your mental clarity, big time!. We think it’s worth it to figure out how to get them onto your plate. Because we aren’t perfect, we like to find simple solutions to get more plants into our diet. One that we use is Juice Plus, because it’s 30 different whole foods, including the 6 we talked about in this article!
If you need some ideas, just let us know.