Diet & Nervous System

Diet & Nervous System

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    A , Nutrition & Dietetics, answered
    Have you ever noticed that you don't tend to get hungry when you're busy and then, when you start thinking about food, suddenly you want it? There's a fundamental relationship between thinking about food and eating. When you're craving food even when you aren't hungry, it's likely that you're bored, tired, stressed, or trying to avoid something you don't want to do. You're probably looking for a way to distract yourself from the resistance you're feeling and the negative or stressful thoughts that underlie it.

    These thoughts create uncomfortable feelings, and rather than ignore them or sit with them until they dissipate, you make a beeline to the refrigerator to change your experience. Yet when something happens that requires your immediate attention, food is the farthest thing from your mind. When the house is on fire, I guarantee that you're not thinking about your stomach. If you're thinking about food when you aren't hungry, try asking yourself, "What experience am I trying to avoid right now?"

    The problem with thinking about food is that it leads to eating. Of course, this isn't a problem if you're actually hungry and it's time to eat. But if you're in the habit of thinking about food often, it's likely that you're eating more food, and more pleasure food in particular, than your body needs. Thinking about food can become our mind's default position, coming in whenever we're stressed, excited, overwhelmed, upset, elated, or bored -- any excuse to think about food will do. The key to skinny thinking is becoming more aware of how you think about food and how often you think about it.
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    A answered
    Walnut Salad
    If you love the crunch of croutons on your salad, try walnuts instead. Omega-3 fatty acids in walnuts have been found to improve mood and calm inflammation that may lead to brain-cell death. They also replace lost melatonin, which is necessary for healthy brain functioning.
    Walnut Salad
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    Blueberries pack a mighty antioxidant wallop because they have the highest anthocyanidin content of all fruits, giving blueberries their dark color. These powerful antioxidant phytochemicals not only zap free radicals, but they also act like smart pills for your brain and have been shown to enhance memory, help rejuvenate brain cells and prevent dementia. Research shows that the blueberry ranks the highest of 60 fruits and vegetables in the ability to destroy free radicals. A half cup of blueberries has more than 70 milligrams (mg) of brain-boosting anthocyanidins, only 40 calories and just 10 grams (g) of total carbs. 
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    A , Internal Medicine, answered
    Two research studies drill down deep into food's good -- and bad -- effects on your gray matter. Here's the verdict:
    • Good food results in fewer "silent" brain problems. Brain scans of 966 elderly New York City residents show that loading your plate with food from the Mediterranean diet (vegetables, fruit, fish, whole grains, nuts, olive oil, and a little wine) protects tiny blood vessels in the brain. People who ate this way had less blood vessel damage caused by silent strokes that fuzz up your ability to balance your checkbook, remember your neighbor's name, or play a mean game of pinochle.
    • The right nutrients boost sharp thinking and keep your brain bigger, too! When nearly 100 elderly women and men had their blood tested for key vitamins and fats, then took a thinking-skills test (some had their brain size measured, too), an "eat healthy" pattern emerged among the people with the best test scores. Those with higher levels of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) omega-3 fatty acids and of vitamins B, C, D, and E had the sharpest minds and largest total brain volume. Those with the highest levels of trans fats -- the nasty fats found in processed foods -- didn't fare as well.
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    A answered
    A snack of almonds and blueberries is better brain food than a candy bar. As they lower blood sugar, healthy snacks can improve cognition. In this case, the omega-3 fatty acids in the almonds and the antioxidants in the blueberries can keep your brain functioning correctly.
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    The active ingredient in Indian curry, turmeric, contains resveratrol, the same powerful antioxidant that makes red wine good for brain health. Eat curry once a week, or sprinkle it on salads, to protect brain cells from harmful free radicals.
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    A , Nutrition & Dietetics, answered
    Here are some brain-boosting snacks:
    • apple and low-fat cheese
    • whole-grain cracker (like Ryvita or Wasa) with a schmeer of cashew butter (about 2 teaspoons) and topped with sliced strawberries
    • ½ sliced banana in 1 cup fat-free plain yogurt, with a dash of cinnamon
    • the classic: ½ cup low-fat cottage cheese and ¼ sliced cantaloupe or honeydew melon
    • 2 figs (fresh or dried) sliced and topped with a few walnuts halves (try figs dipped in tahini, a sesame paste that makes great dips and salad dressings, with a few drops of honey).
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    A , Psychology, answered
    There are all kinds of claims for the abilities of nutritional supplements to enhance cognition. For example, vitamin B6 has been found to enhance memory (but far from conclusively) and there are many other claims being made by marketers for vitamins E, B12, folate, neurosteroids and so on.

    However, in reviewing the research the Academy of Medical Sciences points out that most of the studies are few, far between and small in scope.

    Verdict: Unproven, but probably not dangerous as long as you’re not exceeding the recommended daily allowances. On the downside supplements can be costly.

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    A , Internal Medicine, answered
    Nuts contain monounsaturated fats to keep your arteries clear, as well as levels of precursors of serotonin to boost mood. Eating 1 ounce a day is just right; more is fine, but remember to be careful of calorie overload-an ounce is about 12 walnuts or 24 almonds. The brain/body benefit? The RealAge for men becomes 3.3 years younger; for women, it's 4.4 years younger.
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    A Pediatrics, answered on behalf of
    Fruits and vegetables are always a good option. Kids like being able to dip things, so try carrot sticks with a little bit of ranch dressing or hummus or apples slices with peanut butter. Nuts are really good if there’s no issue with nut allergies. Tuna on whole wheat bread is great snack, if you can get your kids to eat it, because it’s full protein. Small yogurt cups are a good option as well.