Everyone knows that the food we eat plays a crucial role in keeping our body healthy. But not everyone is aware that our food has an equally important role to play in keeping our mind healthy as well.
While following memory improvement techniques and tips is great to keep our mind active and memory sharp, healthy memory practices always start with good "brain" food.
Read the excellent article below from the School of Phenomenal Memory. It is a bit long, so set aside a few minutes for it, as it is well worth the time.
Our diet is very important to a healthy brain.
The Japanese love fish and they even eat it raw. Maybe that is why they are so clever and invent so many electronic miracles. It is only very recently that people have engaged in the scientific substantiation of proper nourishment. Yet, the fact that fish is food for the brain is wisdom that has been passed on by word of mouth for centuries.
"The Questions of Nourishment" magazine offers many scientific articles, as well as supporting chemical formulas. I remember reading one of the articles where one author recommended eating tuna so that the brain does not tire too quickly. Scientists studied the reactions of the brain to various products and came to the conclusion that food influences our cogitative processes in the most miraculous way. Our mood, our memory, and our thought processes largely depend on what we eat.
Nature designed our brain in a way so that its activity and chemical composition depend more on whether we ate breakfast than on what we ate for breakfast. The scientists of the Institute of Nourishment have published many useful and interesting facts.
Try to take advantage
and use some of their discoveries, which I have listed below, for at
least several days. Perhaps, your own experience will convince you that
your memory is truly affected by the food you consume.
Too many people have gotten used to eating breakfast food containing carbohydrates, such as sweet rolls or donuts. Starch and sugar contained in these types of foods lead to a serotonin secretion increase in our brain. Serotonin is a soothing neurotransmitter. As a result of eating sweets in the morning, we limit our peak condition for the day and find ourselves lagging because the activity of our organs decreases.
Sausage, eggs, and ham contain high amounts of cholesterol and fat. These substances are digested slowly and cause blood to flow from our brain to our stomach, which delays our cogitative processes. When I eat a sandwich with sausage for breakfast, I instantly feel that my morning activity starts to dissipate with each piece of swallowed food.
Nutrition experts (Shelton, Bragg) recommend that a good breakfast should consist of products with a very low content of fat or, better yet, be fat-free. Here are some examples of such products: low-fat cottage cheese, fresh fruits and freshly squeezed juice, lean ham, low-fat cream cheese. The fructose contained in fruits is digested slowly and, unlike processed sugar, is not harmful to our organs.
Do you like to drink coffee in the mornings? Scientists do not discourage you from drinking coffee; yet, they recommend it in small amounts - 1 cup a day- and made out of ground coffee beans. Several cups of coffee will result in an overabundance of caffeine which can prevent a person from having good responses/reactions and clear thinking as well as prove harmful to the heart.
Old cook books often recommend a glass of wine or even one or two small shots of hard liqueur after lunch. Many people who are now in their 50s and 60s are used to doing this. However, the use of alcohol of any kind can be rather dangerous. In one of his works, Korsakov described a famous writer who became accustomed to drinking vodka during his travels through northern Russia. No, he was not an alcoholic. No one ever saw him drunk. Yet, he developed a habit of drinking vodka in small doses which led to a structural and functional disorder in his brain. After being examined at Korsakovs' clinic, the writer was diagnosed with multiple neuritis – extensive lesions of the nerves of the brain. At first glance, the author appeared normal, but upon closer examination, one noticed the disorder of his short-term memory - the ability to retain just-occurred events. Within one or two minutes, he would forget a conversation he’d just had with the doctor - and would even greet him again, as though he was seeing the doctor for the first time that day. Such a disease, discovered by Korsakov, is called "Korsakov’s syndrome." Its symptoms are very similar to those of Alzheimers disease.
Many people realize the harm the alcohol can do to our brain, but only a few know the danger of a lunch that consists of three or more dishes containing carbohydrates: bread, potatoes or pasta, sweet desserts. A group of psychologists discovered that similar combinations of products make women sleepy and men weak. After such a lunch, it takes about four hours to fully restore persons' ability to concentrate. You’ve probably heard the joke: "Up until lunch, a person at work fights hunger and after lunch, sleep." Sleepiness may not be the result of a bad night of sleep. Sleepiness is often caused by an incorrectly chosen combination of food that reduces the activity of the brain.
What should you eat for lunch then? Lunch should contain products with a high amount of protein. Poultry or fish rich in protein fill the blood of a person with amino acids, including tyrosine.
Let me also share a few words about the protective barrier of nervous cells of the brain. Each cell of the organism has an external membrane - a protective cover which not only separates the cell from other parts of the organism, but also serves as the transmitter of various substances. Through the membrane, the active withdrawal of harmful by-products of vital cellular activity is carried out. Many cells of the brain possess a double membrane; not every chemical substance can penetrate into the nervous system. Physicians, who are well-informed about these processes, invented a special way for the introduction of medicinal substances directly into the nervous system – the subarachnoid way. Some substances enter into the brain only by means of their direct injection into nervous cells. What is it that prevents those substances from reaching the nervous system? It is the double protective membrane that does it. The mechanism that protects the brain from chemical substances is called a "blood-brain barrier."
Tyrosine easily flows through this protective filter in the brain and turns into chemical elements which help to increase brain activity - dopamine and norepinephrine.
When you suddenly feel confused, helpless, or depressed, it should serve as an indicator of deficiency of these elements in your brain.
Meat, fish, an egg yolk, porridge, peanuts, and soy products contain a nutritious element called choline, which also freely penetrates through the blood-brain barrier. Choline is the chemical predecessor of the neurotransmitter of the brain, acetylcholine, which plays an important role in the development of memory.
It is obvious that before we go to sleep, there is no need to stimulate our brain. If you include food with brain stimulating elements in your dinner, it will definitely affect the quality of your sleep. If you do so often enough, you may eventually develop a sleep disorder. Try not to eat foods like tender steak or fish for dinner but, rather, replace those with carbohydrates. Carbohydrates help your brain release serotonin, which calms your brain and is required for proper rest.
Is it good for you to eat dairy products before sleep? The answer is no. A small glass of weak tea with oat cookies or a roll with jam would be good. Pasteurized dairy products contain Welch's bacilli and various putrefactive microorganisms that may cause diarrhea for those who are lactose intolerant.
According to some scientists, the influence of carbohydrates on the brain is much stronger than we think. Tryptophan acts not only as a somnolent, but also as a painkiller. (Tryptophan is able to flow through the blood-brain barrier and turn into serotonin.).
Many of us eat sweets, unconsciously trying to improve the state of our health. Especially in the fall, when it is not unusual to have a seasonal depression, often characterized by the need for more sleep.
The hormone melatonin, secreted by the pineal gland, regulates the cyclical rhythm of sleep and wakefulness. When days are shorter in the fall and the winter, the pineal gland secretes more of this hormone - which leads to the increased secretion of serotonin. As you can see, nature itself regulates the amount of calming elements in the brain; therefore, you do not need to eat sweets to calm down.
What is the recommended amount of sweets per day? Only about 1.8 grams of carbohydrates are enough to help produce enough of the tranquilizing effect of serotonin in the brain. A larger amount will cause an increase in your weight rather than calmness.
Is it necessary to observe a strict diet, or is it necessary to always eat at a certain time? These questions may seem strange to most of us - we who have been trained to eat at a certain time since we were children. Even at work, we normally lunch at the same time every day. What is the result of the often repeated action? It becomes a habit. The gastric juice starts to secrete at a certain time causing a false feeling of hunger. Then, what if you are not able to eat at your regular time? The gastric juice will secrete anyway, causing erosion of the paries of your stomach. This is one of the main reasons for gastritis and gastric ulcers. What memorizing can you accomplish when you have a stomachache? If you are used to eating at a certain time, then try not to miss it.
It is known that the speed of movement of nervous impulses along the axon (a nervous fiber) depends on the thickness of the myelin cover - the white substance of the brain covering the cell from the outside. Fresh fish contains an amino acid which is a part of neurospecific protein S-100. This protein is found in membranes, cytoplasm, and cell nucleus. It is proven that, in intensive training of laboratory rats, the amount of this protein sharply increases in the hippocampus. This results in blocking the synthesis of protein S-100 and leads to the shutdown of the mechanism of synaptic plasticity. It means that new connections are formed extremely slowly and that the animal is poorly trained. This protein is a part of the myelin cover. The thicker it is, the better the impulse "flies" along the nervous fiber - resulting in quicker reaction time and speed of thinking.
In recent years, a lot of literature regarding proper nourishment has appeared. We already know what food is harmful to the heart and what we should not eat for the prevention of cancer. Now, sitting down at the table, you should also think about the influence of food on the activity of the brain, especially if you have decided to take the Phenomenal Memory Course.
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