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NOOTROPICS-Brain food

I am both a student of food and behavior. Food impacts behavior and general human functioning.  As a chef and psychotherapist, please indulge me on the topic of brain food. Nootropics (from the Greek Noos=mind, Tropa=turning), literally suggest that certain organic substances are able to impact our minds and moods. You don't have to go out and purchase expensive supplements here, as these can all be found in the grocery store.

5 of the most effective and easily accessible "brain foods" are:

1. Turmeric. This root can be purchased right in the grocery store produce aisle. According to studies, turmeric has the ability to cross the blood brain barrier and activates neurons. This stimulation of signaling between neurons is known as neuroplasticity, and assists with mental alertness, focus, concentration, recall, etc.  Essentially, turmeric assists in the production of BDNF (a protein) which reduces oxidation in the brain, and also is believed to remove amyloid plaque- a substance known to cause neurodegenerative disease. Grate it into recipes, top salads, make a tea, or incorporate into your morning coffee. It also has a beautiful yellow color that can be used in rice and potato dishes. 

2. Berries.  The brain is highly susceptible to oxidative stress. Flavanols, found in berries, are natural antioxidants. Berries assist in profusion-increase of blood flow in the brain. Make a smoothie, sprinkle on salads, or eat these delicious little wonders right from the package. 

3. Lion's Mane.  We need to have a fungus among us. LOL This beautiful mushroom also effects nerve growth (neurogenesis), and assists in the production of BDNF. It contains an unique biopolymer, a substance known to stimulate cognitive acuity. 

4. Dark Chocolate.  While delicious alone (without all the bullshit sugar) and other stuff we add), dark chocolate assists in the production of catechins and epicatechins-neurochemicals that accumulate in brain regions. These are flavonoids, and assist in protection for the brain from oxidative stress.  Additionally, dark chocolate aids in the brain's production of nitric oxide (a vasodilator), a substance which causes increase blood flow to the brain, creating alertness, focus, and a general state of heightened awareness. 

5. Green Tea.  An antioxidant called EGCG is an innate green tea chemical. Not only does this marvelous drink provide antioxidant protection, in assists in the creation of dopamine. You know ,the reason why we drug and drink? Well, newsflash, our bodies create dopamine, a euphoric inducing neurochemical.  I notice that when I drink green tea, I derive more gratification from mundane tasks.  Because green tea also helps to transport tryptophan and tyrosine, instead of jitteriness, we experience a sense of calm and tranquility. 

So eat and drink to your brain's health my friend!

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