10 Do’s and Don’ts to Boost Mental Power
Elizabeth Somer, R.D, author of Eat Your Way to Happiness
1. Do cut back on saturated and trans fats. High-fat meals divert blood to the digestive tract and away from the brain, leaving you feeling sluggish, less imaginative, more spacey, and sleepy compared to meals high in carbohydrates and protein, such as the a turkey sandwich on whole wheat bread and a bowl of vegetable soup.
2. Do add more omega-3 DHA to the diet. The fats in fish, in particular the omega-3 fat DHA, boost learning, comprehension, motivation, and intellect. Aim for two to three servings of fatty fish a week, or add foods fortified with DHA to your daily diet.
3. Don't overeat. In a study from Loma Linda University School of Public Health in California, people who consumed the most calories had the lowest scores on tests for mental function. The researchers conclude that overeating in the early and middle years might accelerate the decline in brain function later in life. People who are overweight in their middle years are up to three times more likely to develop dementia later in life.
4. Do limit caffeinated beverages to three a day and don’t drink coffee in the evening, where it can interrupt a good night’s sleep, leaving you tired and mentally drained the next day.
5. Don't over do it with alcohol and do avoid tobacco altogether. Both these drugs are either toxic or constrict blood vessels and interfere with circulation (and oxygen flow) to the brain.
6. Do include lots of colorful fruits and vegetables in the daily menu, or at least two servings at every meal and one at every snack.
7. Do take a moderate-dose multiple vitamin and mineral supplement to fill in the nutritional gaps on days when you don't eat with your brain in mind.
8. Do drink plenty of water. This is the body and brain's most important nutrient.
9. Do exercise daily. Exercise increases blood, glucose, and oxygen flow to the brain; promotes the growth of inter-nerve connections; and balances brain chemistry, all of which improve thinking, learning, and mental performance.
10. Do stay socially connected, volunteer or join a church or other group that meets regularly, and stay mentally stimulated by doing crossword puzzles, taking classes, learning new things, traveling, and more.