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04/25/2018

Food for the Brain: The Omega Factors

Diet plays an important role in your levels of energy and the functioning of your brain. What you eat and how you eat, are important.

When eating during a busy day it is too easy to worry only about satisfying hunger. If this becomes a habit with little consideration for what is actually being put into the body then at some point soon performance will be affected. Mind and body are not separate entities but here I will look at the specific needs of the brain. After all, it is the vehicle of your intellect and this is your primary tool for studying.

Omega-3

Much has been said about Omega-3 in recent years but what is it actually? It is one of two essential fatty acids that the body cannot produce itself. Therefore it needs to be part of a healthy diet. For a very thorough description of Omega-3, and research done at a British school, see the link at the bottom of this article.

Omega-3 has been shown to be beneficial for a variety of ailments but the effect on brain cells has received less attention. As a lay person interested in healthy foods I prefer to make sure I get what my body and brain needs by eating healthily. Supplements are available but please be cautious about taking too many. Too much Omega-6, the other essential fatty acid, can even hinder the effects of Omega-3.

Sources of Omega-3

Omega-3 is found in oily fish such as sardines, tuna, salmon, and mackerel. Pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, and walnuts also contain Omega-3 and these are all easy to use regularly by scattering a spoonful over your cereal or muesli at breakfast time, although flax seeds are better for the digestive system when ground beforehand. A few walnuts and pumpkin seeds taste good mixed in with a salad or simply combined with raisins as a snack. This is an easy and natural way to nourish your brain.

As a side note here, I was fascinated and delighted when I heard that walnuts are good for the brain because of their Omega-3 content. I remembered a so-called old wives tale which said that walnuts were brain food because their shape is similar to that of a brain. Ancient wisdom or simple observation?

General Considerations for a Healthy Diet

If you eat well so that your whole body is more energized and clear then you will also be more alert. Beware of trans-fatty acids that are found in margarine and as an ingredient in many processed foods. Make sure you eat plenty of fruit and vegetables and do not always rely on meat for your protein. Soya and tofu are good alternatives and also contain some Omega-3. The B-vitamin complex is essential for the nerves and again, I prefer to get it naturally rather than in supplements. Unless you are lacking seriously in any vitamins or minerals it is sufficient to make sure you are eating good, organic, whole food as far as possible. Whole meal bread and additional wheat germ are good sources of vitamin B.

Enjoy Your Food

Eating as a pleasurable occasion relaxed and with friends, contributes as much to your wellbeing as the food you are eating so don’t feel you have to be over strict about your diet. Be sensible, care, and enjoy. A few small changes in diet can have a great effect on the way you feel.

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