Add these ‘superfoods’ to your daily diet, and you will increase your odds of maintaining a healthy brain for the rest of your life.
There’s no denying that as we age chronologically, our body ages right along with us. But research is showing that you can increase your chances of maintaining a healthy brain well into your old age if you add these « smart » foods to your daily eating regimen.
Blueberries. « Brainberries » is what Steven Pratt, MD, author of Superfoods Rx: Fourteen Foods Proven to Change Your Life, calls these tasty fruits. Pratt, who is also on staff at Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla, Calif., says that in animal studies researchers have found that blueberries help protect the brain from oxidative stress and may reduce the effects of age-related conditions such as or . Studies have also shown that diets rich in blueberries significantly improved both the learning capacity and motor skills of rats, making them mentally equivalent to much younger rats. Ann Kulze, MD, author of Dr. Ann’s 10-Step Diet: A Simple Plan for Permanent Weight Loss & Lifelong Vitality, recommends adding at least 1 cup of blueberries a day in any form — fresh, frozen, or freeze-dried.
Wild salmon. Deep-water fish, such as salmon, are rich in omega-3 essential fatty acids, which are essential for brain function, says Kulze. Both she and Pratt recommend wild salmon for its « cleanliness » and the fact that it is in plentiful supply. Omega-3s also contain anti-inflammatory substances. Other oily fish that provide the benefits of omega-3s are sardines and herring, says Kulze; she recommends a 4-ounce serving, two to three times a week.
Nuts and seeds. Nuts and seeds are good sources of vitamin E, says Pratt, explaining that higher levels of vitamin E correspond with less cognitive decline as you get older. Add an ounce a day of walnuts, hazelnuts, Brazil nuts, filberts, almonds, cashews, peanuts, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, flax seed, and unhydrogenated nut butters such as peanut butter, almond butter, and tahini. Raw or roasted doesn’t matter, although if you’re on a sodium-restricted diet, buy unsalted nuts.
Avocados. Avocados are almost as good as blueberries in promoting brain health, says Pratt. « I don’t think the avocado gets its due, » agrees Kulze. True, the avocado is a fatty fruit, but, says Kulze, it’s a monounsaturated fat, which contributes to healthy blood flow. « And healthy blood flow means a healthy brain, » she says. Avocados also lower blood pressure, says Pratt, and as is a risk factor for the decline in cognitive abilities, a lower blood pressure should promote brain health. Avocados are high in calories, however, so Kulze suggests adding just 1/4 to 1/2 of an avocado to one daily meal as a side dish.
Whole grains. Whole grains, such as oatmeal, whole-grain breads, and brown rice can reduce the risk for. « Every organ in the body is dependent on blood flow, » says Pratt. « If you promote cardiovascular health, you’re promoting good flow to the organ system, which includes the brain. » While wheat germ is not technically a whole grain, it also goes on Kulze’s « superfoods » list because in addition to fiber, it has vitamin E and some omega-3s. Kulze suggests 1/2 cup of whole-grain cereal, 1 slice of bread two-thee times day, or 2 tablespoons of wheat germ a day.
Beans. Beans are « under-recognized » and « economical, » says Kulze. They also stabilize glucose (blood sugar) levels. The brain is dependent on glucose for fuel, Kulze explains, and since it can’t store the glucose, it relies on a steady stream of energy — which beans can provide. Any beans will do, says Kulze, but she is especially partial to lentils and black beans and recommends 1/2 cup every day.
Pomegranate juice. Pomegranate juice (you can eat the fruit itself but with its many tiny seeds, it’s not nearly as convenient) offers potent antioxidant benefits, says Kulze, which protect the brain from the damage of free radicals. « Probably no part of the body is more sensitive to the damage from free radicals as the brain, » says board-certified neurologist David Perlmutter, MD, author of The Better Brain Book. Citrus fruits and colorful vegetables are also high on Perlmutter’s list of « brainy » foods because of their antioxidant properties — « the more colorful the better, » he says. Because pomegranate juice has added sugar (to counteract its natural tartness), you don’t want to go overboard, says Kulze; she recommends approximately 2 ounces a day, diluted with spring water or seltzer.
Freshly brewed tea. Two to three cups a day of freshly brewed tea — hot or iced — contains a modest amount of caffeine which, when used « judiciously, » says Kulze — can boost brain power by enhancing memory, focus, and mood. Tea also has potent antioxidants, especially the class known as catechines, which promotes healthy blood flow. Bottled or powdered teas don’t do the trick, however, says Kulze. « It has to be freshly brewed. » Tea bags do count, however.
Dark chocolate. Let’s end with the good stuff. Dark chocolate has powerful antioxidant properties, contains several natural stimulants, including caffeine, which enhance focus and concentration, and stimulates the production of endorphins, which helps improve mood. One-half ounce to 1 ounce a day will provide all the benefits you need, says Kulze. This is one « superfood » where more is not better. « You have to do this one in moderation, » says Kulze.
33 Simple Diet and Fitness Tips
Diet and workout tips that work
Say hello to H20
Find the best fitness friend
Stock up on these
Relieve those achy muscles
Curb your sweet tooth
Buy comfy sneaks
Pick your perfect tunes
When to weigh
Police your portions
Combat cocktail hour
Eat this, run that
Turn your cheat day around
Run with this
Be a weekend warrior
Fun up your food
Up your exercise
Have a fruity ice cream sundae
Swap out your shoes
Snag the right support
Relieve those side stitches
Shake your way slim
Fuel for fitness
Say goodbye to peer pressure
Savor your carbs
Ditch your working lunch
Slim up your snack
Find healthy fast food
Be a mighty maintainer
Up your fiber intake
Work out in the morning
Have a hearty breakfast
Nutrition for kids: 5 tips
Nutrition for kids: 5 tips
1) Stick to concrete ideas
Avoid abstract concepts. Children only start to understand abstract concepts once they reach about 11 or 12 years old. For example some concrete ideas are:
- Eat lots of different foods every day
- Eat fruit and vegetables of all colours of the rainbow every day
- Talking about whole food items
- Classifying foods by where they come from
- “Sometimes” and “everyday” foods
- Note: the classification of foods into everyday or sometimes is an abstract concept, but how often foods are recommended to be eaten is a concrete idea.
Some abstract concepts are:
- Vitamins and minerals
- Other nutrients that can’t be seen (e.g. protein, calcium, saturated fat)
- Classification of foods by nutrients
- Recommended serve size; daily recommended serves
- Chronic disease risk
- Processes by which food affects health
2) Avoid complicated phrases
Kids can often recite facts and phrases without really understanding them. For example, younger children probably don’t understand what ‘variety’ means and many kids might only know the word ‘diet’ to be a special way of eating (for example to lose weight or for diabetes) rather than a person’s everyday food consumption. Other terms kids might not understand are healthy weight, low fat or low sugar. When talking with your child, keep checking in with them and ask them to explain back to you what they know – that way you’ll get an idea for how much they’ve grasped.
3) Use props!
When referring to a particular food, use the real food item or a picture of the food so your child knows what you’re talking about. Chat about the food you’re preparing and eating for dinner. Ask them how the food grows or where you can find it; discuss seasonal produce and the kinds of environments foods need to grow.
4) Be meaningful
Kids live in the present, so focus on the immediate benefits rather than long term ones. Being strong, growing well and having enough energy to climb the monkey bars are important concepts to kids. They’re less concerned about their longterm disease risk or heart health!
5) Be a role model
Research shows what you eat and do influences children’s habits more than what you say. Studies also show that an authoritative parenting style is also associated with positive dietary results in children. Authoritative parenting doesn’t necessarily need to be overly restrictive nor lax, but it sets some boundaries around the consumption of “sometimes” foods. Families that eat meals together are also associated with children who eat more fruit and vegetables.
How to Lose Weight Fast: 3 Simple Steps, Based on Science
There are many ways to lose a lot of weight fast.
However, most of them will make you hungry and unsatisfied.
If you don’t have iron willpower, then hunger will cause you to give up on these plans quickly.
The plan outlined here will:
- Reduce your appetite significantly.
- Make you lose weight quickly, without hunger.
- Improve your metabolic health at the same time.
Here is a simple 3-step plan to lose weight fast.
The most important part is to cut back on sugars and starches (carbs).
These are the foods that stimulate secretion of insulin the most. If you didn’t know already, insulin is the main fat storage hormone in the body.
When insulin goes down, fat has an easier time getting out of the fat stores and the body starts burning fats instead of carbs.
It is not uncommon to lose up to 10 pounds (sometimes more) in the first week of eating this way, both body fat and water weight.
This is a graph from a study comparing low-carb and low-fat diets in overweight/obese women (3).
The low-carb group is eating until fullness, while the low-fat group is calorie restricted and hungry.
Cut the carbs, lower your insulin and you will start to eat less calories automatically and without hunger (4).
Put simply, lowering your insulin puts fat loss on « autopilot. »
BOTTOM LINE:Removing sugars and starches (carbs) from your diet will lower your insulin levels, kill your appetite and make you lose weight without hunger.
Each one of your meals should include a protein source, a fat source and low-carb vegetables. Constructing your meals in this way will automatically bring your carb intake into the recommended range of 20-50 grams per day.
- Meat – Beef, chicken, pork, lamb, bacon, etc.
- Fish and Seafood – Salmon, trout, shrimps, lobsters, etc.
- Eggs – Omega-3 enriched or pastured eggs are best.
The importance of eating plenty of protein can not be overstated.
High protein diets can also reduce obsessive thoughts about food by 60%, reduce desire for late-night snacking by half, and make you so full that you automatically eat 441 fewer calories per day… just by adding protein to your diet (8, 9).
When it comes to losing weight, protein is the king of nutrients. Period.
- Brussels Sprouts
- Swiss Chard
- Full list here.
Don’t be afraid to load your plate with these low-carb vegetables. You can eat massive amounts of them without going over 20-50 net carbs per day.
A diet based on meat and vegetables contains all the fiber, vitamins and minerals you need to be healthy. There is no physiological need for grains in the diet.
- Olive oil
- Coconut oil
- Avocado oil
Eat 2-3 meals per day. If you find yourself hungry in the afternoon, add a 4th meal.
Don’t be afraid of eating fat, trying to do both low-carb AND low-fat at the same time is a recipe for failure. It will make you feel miserable and abandon the plan.
BOTTOM LINE:Assemble each meal out of a protein source, a fat source and a low-carb vegetable. This will put you into the 20-50 gram carb range and drastically lower your insulin levels.
You don’t need to exercise to lose weight on this plan, but it is recommended.
The best option is to go to the gym 3-4 times a week. Do a warm up, lift weights, then stretch.
If you’re new to the gym, ask a trainer for some advice.
Studies on low-carb diets show that you can even gain a bit of muscle while losing significant amounts of body fat (16).
If lifting weights is not an option for you, then doing some easier cardio workouts like running, jogging, swimming or walking will suffice.
BOTTOM LINE:It is best to do some sort of resistance training like weight lifting. If that is not an option, cardio workouts work too.
You can take one day « off » per week where you eat more carbs. Many people prefer Saturday.
It is important to try to stick to healthier carb sources like oats, rice, quinoa, potatoes, sweet potatoes, fruits, etc.
But only this one higher carb day, if you start doing it more often than once per week then you’re not going to see much success on this plan.
If you must have a cheat meal and eat something unhealthy, then do it on this day.
You will gain some weight during your re-feed day, but most of it will be water weight and you will lose it again in the next 1-2 days.
BOTTOM LINE:Having one day of the week where you eat more carbs is perfectly acceptable, although not necessary.
It is NOT necessary to count calories as long as you keep the carbs very low and stick to protein, fat and low-carb vegetables.
However, if you really want to, then use this calculator.
Enter your details, then pick the number from either the « Lose Weight » or the « Lose Weight Fast » section – depending on how fast you want to lose.
There are many great tools you can use to track the amount of calories you are eating. Here is a list of 5 calorie counters that are free and easy to use.
The main goal is to keep carbs under 20-50 grams per day and get the rest of your calories from protein and fat.
BOTTOM LINE:It is not necessary to count calories to lose weight on this plan. It is most important to strictly keep your carbs in the 20-50 gram range.
Here are 10 more tips to lose weight even faster:
- Eat a high-protein breakfast. Eating a high-protein breakfast has been shown to reduce cravings and calorie intake throughout the day (19, 20, 21).
- Avoid sugary drinks and fruit juice. These are the most fattening things you can put into your body, and avoiding them can help you lose weight (22, 23).
- Drink water a half hour before meals. One study showed that drinking water a half hour before meals increased weight loss by 44% over 3 months (24).
- Choose weight loss-friendly foods (see list). Certain foods are very useful for losing fat. Here is a list of the 20 most weight loss-friendly foods on earth.
- Eat soluble fiber. Studies show that soluble fibers may reduce fat, especially in the belly area. Fiber supplements like glucomannan can also help (25, 26, 27).
- Drink coffee or tea. If you’re a coffee or tea drinker, then drink as much as you want as the caffeine in them can boost your metabolism by 3-11% (28, 29, 30).
- Eat mostly whole, unprocessed foods. Base most of your diet on whole foods. They are healthier, more filling and much less likely to cause overeating.
- Eat your food slowly. Fast eaters gain more weight over time. Eating slowly makes you feel more full and boosts weight-reducing hormones (31, 32, 33).
- Use smaller plates. Studies show that people automatically eat less when they use smaller plates. Strange, but it works (34).
- Get a good night’s sleep, every night. Poor sleep is one of the strongest risk factors for weight gain, so taking care of your sleep is important (35, 36).
Even more tips here: 30 Easy Ways to Lose Weight Naturally (Backed by Science).
BOTTOM LINE:It is most important to stick to the three rules, but there are a few other things you can do to speed things up.
You can expect to lose 5-10 pounds of weight (sometimes more) in the first week, then consistent weight loss after that.
I can personally lose 3-4 lbs per week for a few weeks when I do this strictly.
If you’re new to dieting, then things will probably happen quickly. The more weight you have to lose, the faster you will lose it.
For the first few days, you might feel a bit strange. Your body has been burning carbs for all these years, it can take time for it to get used to burning fat instead.
It is called the « low carb flu » and is usually over within a few days. For me it takes 3. Adding some sodium to your diet can help with this, such as dissolving a bouillon cube in a cup of hot water and drinking it.
After that, most people report feeling very good, positive and energetic. At this point you will officially have become a « fat burning beast. »
Despite the decades of anti-fat hysteria, the low-carb diet also improves your health in many other ways:
- Blood Sugar tends to go way down on low-carb diets (37, 38).
- Triglycerides tend to go down (39, 40).
- Small, dense LDL (the bad) Cholesterol goes down (41, 42).
- HDL (the good) cholesterol goes up (43).
- Blood pressure improves significantly (44, 45).
- To top it all off, low-carb diets appear to be easier to follow than low-fat diets.
BOTTOM LINE:You can expect to lose a lot of weight, but it depends on the person how quickly it will happen. Low-carb diets also improve your health in many other ways.
If you have a medical condition then talk to your doctor before making changes because this plan can reduce your need for medication.
By reducing carbs and lowering insulin levels, you change the hormonal environment and make your body and brain « want » to lose weight.
This leads to drastically reduced appetite and hunger, eliminating the main reason that most people fail with conventional weight loss methods.
Another great benefit for the impatient folks is that the initial drop in water weight can lead to a big difference on the scale as early as the next morning.
Here are a few examples of low-carb meals that are simple, delicious and can be prepared in under 10 minutes: 7 Healthy Low-Carb Meals in 10 Minutes or Less.
On this plan, you can eat good food until fullness and still lose a ton of fat. Welcome to paradise.