Monday, 24 October 2011

Can stilton make you stupid?

In the film Limitless the main character manages to access the large proportion of his brain capacity that is supposedly unused by taking a special drug and thereby becomes super intelligent. The film is clearly ridiculous, but surprisingly enjoyable, and Ms Haribo was at pains to point out that the whole premise is sheer nonsense.

But what if you could alter how effective your brain is, thereby becoming smarter without having to take some illegal (and entirely fictitious) drug?

Well you can ... Just by eating! As per my blog last week, food can have surprisingly significant effects on the body including on brain function. Concentration, synapse function and neuron condition can all be affected by what you eat speeding up the connections you make between brains cells, thereby making you smarter.

I remember getting clued into this fact quite early on and eating a tremendous amount of fish in the run up to my exams at university! It wasn't a very scientific experiment and I'm not sure it helpeds but plenty of evidence suggests the benefits of essential fats on brain function.

This probably won't be news to you, although if you're not a lover of fish you may want to consider taking a fish oil supplement.

What you might not be aware of is that eating the saturated fats found in animal products such as meat, cheese and eggs can prevent your body from processing the good fats in your diet. Therefore eating cheese can actually reduce the positive effects of eating oily fish.

Water is also super important - your brain cells produce energy in the same way as every other cell in your body - by combining water with carbohydrate in the presence of oxygen. If you're dehydrated your brain cells won't have as much energy and so will be less effective.

As far as specific vitamins go Coq10 is one of my top picks for protecting the brain from damage and ageing, unfortunately there's not enough in food to make a big difference so I take mine in combination with an essential fat supplement in Eskimo brainsharp.

Other fat soluble antioxidants - such as Vitamin D and Vitamin E are also important to protect the delicate fats in the brain (your brain is 60per cent fat). Vitamin D is found once again in oily fish but also eggs and dairy products. Vitamin E is found in avocados, buts seeds, pulses, rice, oats, such as chickpeas and eggs.

So a dinner of avocado starter, salmon and brown rice is great brain food whilst a pizza and a beer won't be getting you on Mastermind!

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