By Jimmy Polinori
During my junior year of high school, I and my peers were subjected to an onslaught of “brain tests” to determine our aptitudes, skills, and IQs. It had something to do with career goals. Always a freethinker, this attempt to put everyone in their proper category boggled my mind. Of all the testing, only the results of one have stayed with me and proven quite accurate.
It was the right brain/left brain test.
A school counselor read me tests results revealing that I was neither right nor left dominant. My brain was split right down the middle. Upon remarking that I was in a small percentile, she added that it could lead to intense distraction and difficulty at settling on a career path. I promptly informed her that my parents could have saved them time and money in drawing that conclusion.
Test or no test, that attribute has led to some of my greatest achievements and set the stage for some of my greatest challenges. I learned early on that my brain thrives on variety and withers with consistency. I adapted my professional career to involve multiple projects of differing skill sets and creative outlets in order to avoid under-stimulation.
I’ve also learned through my study of food science that the brain — mine and
yours, mind you — reacts to diet.
Today, as I write this, I am busier than ever. I’m writing this article and updating the corresponding Culinary Composer site. I’ve started a budding ad agency that is also assuming the role of creative director for this very publication.
I have two books in the works and, since I work from home, I play chef and domestic technician for a loving and very supportive family.
All of those projects keep my indecisive brain quite satisfied, but, like a muscle, it requires training and proper nutrition. In attempting to keep up with myself, I’ve devised a nutrition plan that maximizes optimal brain function, improves focus, energy, and memory, and, in the long run, will hopefully assist in deterring the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.
The following is a list of the top 10 scientifically studied (and proven) “Brain Foods” (in no particular order) My sample menu is to your right. You can find more tips and recipes for brain and body power with the Savvy Lifestyle Collection on my site, Facebook.Com/TheCulinaryComposer.
Smart Nutritional Input For Maximum Cranial Output
1) Blueberries: Dark-colored fruits, especially blueberries, are high in anti-oxidants. Research from the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University found that blueberry extract improved short-term memory and motor skills.
2) Spinach: Dark and leafy greens contain high levels of folate and B12, which reduce homocysteine levels associated with increased risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
3) Almonds: The antioxidative properties of vitamin E are proven to reduce deterioration in the brain as you age. Just 2 ounces of almonds contain the recommended daily intake of E.
4) Eggs: Studies have shown that students who received 3-4 grams of choline 1 hour prior to taking memory tests scored higher than those who didn’t. Eggs cater one of the highest sources.
5) Oatmeal: Consuming carbohydrate-rich foods is equivalent to a shot of glucose (blood sugar) to the brain according to University of Toronto researchers. According to their study, the higher concentration of glucose in your blood, the better your memory or concentration. Slow-burning complex carbs like oatmeal are the best choice for your waistline and sustained energy.
6) Turkey: This excellent source of lean protein also contains the amino acid tyrosine. Tyrosine has been shown to assist the brain in maintaining levels of dopamine, an important neurotransmitter for memory.
7) Raisins: USDA researchers have found that subjects taking in 3.2 or more milligrams of boron daily performed 10 percent better on attention and memory tests. Raisins and apples are packed with the stuff.
8) Fish: Cold water varieties such as salmon, halibut, tuna, and mackeral contain more omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s play a vital role in brain function. Scientists have also discovered that these fatty acids found in certain oily fish can decrease
the symptoms of depression.
9) Beef: Swiss researchers tested subjects after consuming three different breakfast types — highcarbohydrate, high-protein, and balanced — the high-protein meal helped the men in the study score better on a computer memory test. The
results were attributed to beef increasing levels of the amino acids tyrosine and phenylalanine.
10) Coffee: No surprise here. Those of us who require our cup or two in order to function have good reason. Researchers found increased attention and problem-solving skills — and possibly fewer household fights!