20 Super Brain Foods

We know that the foods we eat affect the body but they can have even more influence on how well our brain functions. What we eat can have a POWERFUL affect on our brain’s energy, how the mind handles tasks, and our general mood.

Our focus here is on those particular nutrients found in foods that enhance neuron firing and cross-linking in the brain. The foods listed below can help you: concentrate, increase memory, tune sensorimotor skills, keep you motivated, speed up your reaction time, control stress, and even slow down the aging of brain cells!

So here is a list of 20 different food types that we can add to our diet, their effects, and how they function:

1. Wholegrain Foods

Whole grain is a great brain stimulator because it contains high percentage of folate. Make sure you’re eating a diet rich in whole grain breads, cereals, barley, popcorn, etc., because they can boost your blood flow to the brain. Every organ in the body is dependent on blood flow… especially the brain.

Wholegrain breads and cereals are rich in Vitamin B6, an important brain vitamin. Wheat germ additionally contains memory-improving thiamine.

Nuts

Everything from the most common nuts — such as walnuts, hazelnuts, cashews and almonds — to the more exotic seeds and nuts can clear up that “brain fog” and enable you to think clearer and are positive mood enhancers.

2. Walnuts

Both literally and figuratively speaking, walnuts are “brain food”. Physically the walnut looks a lot like the human brain. The thin, outer green cover that is taken out before the walnuts are sold is similar to the scalp. The hard shell of a walnut is like a skull. The thin sheet inside, with its paper-like partitions between the two halves of the walnut, is like the membrane. The shape of the walnut itself represents the human brain’s two hemispheres.

Walnuts are made up of 15 to 20 percent protein and contain linoleic (omega-6 fatty acids) and alpha-linoleic acids (omega-3 fatty acids), vitamin E and vitamin B6, making them an excellent source of nourishment for your nervous system.

Omega 3 fatty acids found in walnuts are especially helpful in brain function. Our brain is more than 60% structural fat which needs to be primarily omega-3 fats, found in walnuts and flaxseed, for its cell membranes to function properly. Cell membranes, primarily composed of fats, are the gatekeepers of the cell. Omega-3 fats, flexible and fluid by nature, make it easy for nutrients to pass thru the outer membrane of the cell and also helps remove waste efficiently. Definitely worth it when the cell belongs to your brain, don’t you think?

Walnuts may also help correct the human brain’s seratonin levels. Seratonin is an important brain chemical that controls both our moods and appetite. Walnuts may be able to relieve disorders like insomnia, depression, overeating and other compulsive behavior, commonly treated with antidepressant drugs like Prozac, without the dangerous side effects.

3. Cashews

While you’re in the nut aisle shopping for walnuts be sure to pick up some cashews, almonds, pecans and peanuts too. Each nut can enhance your mental health in its own way. Cashews are high in magnesium, known to open up the blood vessels in your body. More oxygen-rich blood = better brain function.

4. Almonds

Phenylalanine, found in almonds, can do wonders for your mental and neurological health. Phenylalanine has the rare ability to cross the blood-brain barrier where it stimulates the brain to generate natural mood-boosting neurotransmitters called dopamine, adrenaline and noradrenaline. Additionally, almonds are high in riboflavin which is known to boost memory.

5. Pecans

Pecans and peanuts provide choline, another important nutrient for optimal brain function. Choline aids in both memory and brain development.

Berries

6. Blueberries

Eating blueberries and a diet rich in deep pigment from fruits and vegetables helps preserve the brain machinery and boost the potency of neuron signals. Blueberries literally strengthen the brain. They have compounds that turn on key systems in the brain enable other proteins to help with memory or other cognitive skills.

In one recent study, subjects who ate one cup of blueberries a day for two weeks showed an increased birth rate of brain cells in the hippocampus (region responsible for memory), and scored significantly higher in classroom tests than those subjects who did not.

Blueberries are also known to protect the brain from oxidative stress and may reduce the effects of age-related conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease and Dementia. In addition, blueberries also contain ellagic acid, another phytochemical that has been shown to prevent cell damage.

7. Strawberries

Antioxidant-rich strawberries can prevent age-related neurological declines by improving brain cell abilities to send and receive the ‘signaling’ molecules. The brain uses these signaling molecules to communicate.

Remarkably, these same studies showed that the powerful antioxidants in strawberries, spinach and blueberries can improve the ability to communicate even among brain cells already showing signs of age-related damage.

8. Blackberries

Blackberries contain an amazing class of nutrients called anthocyanins. Our brain is particularly vulnerable to oxidative damage but anthocyanins help protect our brain from oxidation stress, which in turn fights degenerative brain diseases.

One study even found anthocyanin-rich supplements to reverse age-related neurological deficits in subjects.

Seeds

9. Sunflower Seeds

Like nuts, many seeds and nuts can boost your mood and brainpower. Sunflower seeds contain tryptophan, an important amino acid that the brain converts to seratonin, which is a natural way to relieve mild depression and insomnia. Additionally, sunflower seeds are high in thiamine, an important B vitamin, which increases memory and cognitive function.

10. Pumpkin Seeds

Amazingly, the most powerful part of the pumpkin lies in its least used part. The seeds of the pumpkin are a power food, rich in many nutrients including: Zinc, Vitamin A and E, and the precious Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids. The Zinc found in pumpkin seeds plays a vital role in enhancing memory and thinking skills.

11. Green Tea

Green tea is a wonderful beverage, and when freshly brewed, it enhances memory and focus and fights mental fatigue. Green tea contains catechines, which help you relax mentally, yet also keeps your wits sharpened.

Green Tea also helps maintain positive mood states and fights against many brain disorders. Polyphenols are powerful antioxidants found in green tea that can boost the availability of the important signaling brain substance dopamine in brain circuits. Dopamine is vital in creating positive mood states.

Polyphenols also help the brain and body run smoothly by maintaining a steady supply of our body’s primary fuel: glucose. These powerful polyphenols also help prevent cancer and heart attacks.

12. Eggs

Eggs indeed offer a very impressive nutritional profile for their 70 calories. They are a precious source of high-quality proteins and rich in vitamins and minerals. But there’s more!

Nutrient called choline, found in eggs, can help boost the memory center in the brain. Researchers have found choline to increase the size of neurons, which helps them fire electrical signals more strongly and rebound faster between firings.

Two antioxidants found in egg yolk called lutein and zeaxanthin help prevent the risk of age-related cataracts and macular degeneration, two of the most prevalent age-related eye conditions.

Remember this the next time you open the fridge door. The amazing egg: naturally good.

13. Avocados

For brain health, avocados are nearly as good as blueberries. Avocados contain mono-unsaturated fats, which contribute to healthy blood flow, the main requirement for a healthy brain.

To include avocados to your diet, add 1/4 to 1/2 of an avocado to one meal daily as a side dish.

14. Tomatoes

Lycopene, an amazing antioxidant found in tomatoes, could help protect against free-radical damage to cells, which is believed to be a primary factor in cases of Dementia, and particularly, Alzheimer’s disease.

15. Broccoli

Broccoli is labeled as superfood due to its high overall nutrient content. It is a great source of vitamin K, which enhances cognitive function and improves brainpower.

16. Red Cabbage

Red cabbage is full of an antioxidant called polyphenol. Polyphenols reduce brain cell damage and is especially helpful in the prevention and treatment of Alzheimers’ disease.

17. Eggplant

Eggplant skin contains a nutrient called nasunin which keeps our brain sharp by enhancing communication between our brain cells and messenger molecules. Remembering to use the skin pays tremendous benefits in vastly improved focus.

18. Spinach

Spinach slows down the effects of age-related declines in brain function and helps protect the brain from oxidative stress. Researchers suggest that a diet rich in spinach can significantly improve learning capacity and motor skills.

19. Yogurt

Calcium rich foods such as yogurt, milk and cheese improve nerve function. Yogurt contains an amino acid called tyrosine which is responsible for producing the neurotransmitters dopamine and noradrenalin. In short, yogurt helps improve alertness and memory.

20. Chocolate!!!

What better to end with? It’s hard to believe that anything as incredibly delicious as chocolate can actually be incredibly good for you as well. Dark chocolate has powerful antioxidant properties and contains several natural stimulants which increase the production of endorphins while enhancing focus and concentration. The stimulants found in dark chocolate also improve mood. It has high content of flavanols that facilitate blood supply to the brain and enhance cognitive skills.

Milk chocolate jump starts impulse control and reaction time. It has also been known to improve visual and verbal memory.

More isn’t necessarily better when it comes to chocolate. This is, unfortunately, one superfood that you have to indulge in in moderation.

Conclusion

Our brain is the greediest organ in the body, but its proper nourishment is vital to creative thought, positive mood, memory, and good overall health. It’s no surprise that what you eat affects how you think, feel, remember, and potentially even increase intelligence.

If it’s possible to eat your way to genius, who wouldn’t want to?

 

I Want You To Spend A Lot

10 Sensible Ways to Reduce Credit Card Debt

You don’t need financial advisors or credit reduction agencies to eliminate debt, just some common sense tips, plus a dynamite strategy that actually INCREASES your wealth in the long run.I looked at all the options suggested by the financial experts, all the Top Ten Ways to Financial Freedom articles, and glanced at a few of the books and programs that deal with debt reduction, and then basically tossed them all out the window.And then I got down to business. Here’s how I dealt with my debt in practical, sensible ways, and why I chose the methods I used. Some of what I learned from this process is fairly obvious, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t important, and by the time your finished reading, you’ll be able to see for yourself how the obvious things lead up to the amazing Big Credit KO Punch at the end.

1. Don’t Fall Into the “All At Once” Trap.The first thing I realized was that it’s a natural tendency to think that the best way to deal with it is all at once, especially so since it was an Immediate Gratification mode of thinking that got me into the mess in the first place. That same mentality has a tendency to leave you feeling that you’re not making progress, which leads to an overall lack of motivation.

2. Nickel and Dime ItMake payments as often as you can. If you have 10 extra dollars, make a payment. It WILL add up, and you will see a difference. DON’T save it all up for the monthly payment. Go online and make the payment NOW!

3. Find More MoneyTo make any headway at all, I had to start coming up with more money I could actually use to make payments higher than the monthly minimum… it’s too easy to think that monthly minimum means “the minimum amount you need to make some headway” when it really means “the minimum amount that is best designed to increase your debt even further.”Like most people, I was used to carrying cash around, “just in case I needed it”. The problem is, when you think about it, is that we invariably wind up spending a little of that cash here and there on things we don’t really need. In other words, I came to understand that if I didn’t have it, I wouldn’t spend it.

4. Use Direct Deposit: Screw the Banks!The next thing I did was opt into a direct deposit for my paycheck. The reasons for doing this go well beyond the obvious, such as the tendency to write a number into that little box on the deposit slip that says, CASH BACK. It also put me in a position of being less likely to overdraw my account and wind up paying overdraft fees (which is the last thing you need when your already trying to save money). Without going into a lot of detail, your friendly neighborhood bank has practices in place that are DESIGNED to make you more likely to overdraw your account, but that’s another story.

5. Put that Money Into Reducing Your DebtI suddenly discovered that I COULD make a higher payment at the end of the month, sometimes significant, and my balance on my highest interest rate cards began to drop. The prospect that I was actually making a little headway gave me a boost of badly needed encouragement, and I started looking for more ways to save money.

6. Ask Yourself, “Do I Really Need This?” But don’t foregt to REWARD YourselfFast food is convenient, but is it really necessary? Nope. But I did allow myself to indulge in it occasionally. Just because I was in a financial mess didn’t mean I couldn’t reward myself. The same went for groceries. I started paying more attention to the little labels that said, “cost per ounce” instead of what had the lower price, and quickly came to understand the psychological games that supermarkets play to make the most profit off of their shoppers. The lowest price almost NEVER means the best value. Think of it as buying gasoline. That’s the ONLY price we see: the cost per gallon, not packages of various gasoline brands in colorful, deceptive containers designed to look like they hold more, with big signs saying, “NORMALLY 3.99, NOW 2 for 7.49!”

7. Reduce Your Utility CostsNext to rent or a house payment, what’s the biggest expense most of us face? Energy bills. You can save a significant amount of money over time very easily by not being lazy. Close doors to rooms you don’t need heated or cooled most of the time and shut the vents. Turn the cooling up 2 degrees in summer and down 2 degrees in winter. Turn out the lights in a room you’re not using. Buy a compact fluorescent bulb or two when they’re on sale and slowly replace all the lights in your living space. Get out of convenience mode and get into savings mode. Start thinking long term. You’ll be amazed just like I was.

8. Negotiate Lower Rates and Transfer Balances… On YOUR TermsI started making more headway, including getting some of the lower balance cards reduced by half. Now it was time to get on the phone and make some calls to the credit card companies to negotiate lower rates. Sure, I could have tried to play the Zero Balance Transfer Game that most new card offers come with, but do you really think for one second that those offers aren’t designed to do the exact opposite of what you’re trying to do? Don’t get caught up in that trap.The best way to do this is by getting your lowest rate card spending limit increased, which is something nearly every credit card company is MORE than willing to do. It also never hurts to ask at the same time if they can shave a little off the interest rate, and give them the impression that you’re sort of tied into the higher credit limit based on this. You might get nothing in the way of rate reduction, or you might be surprised. It doesn’t hurt to try.Now it was time to play the credit transfer game I’d set up for myself and do it by my own rules. I transferred as much as I could from the higher rate cards to the increased limit lower rate cards, and then focused on paying off any remaining balance on those high-rate cards. As soon as I got one to zero balance, I got rid of it. Cutting up a card from a company that’s been legally screwing you over is amazingly rewarding.

9. The Coup de Grace: Put Your Retirement Account to Work!You know that 401K plan at your company that you’ve been paying into? You can take out a loan, usually 25% of the total amount, and pay down or pay off your credit card debt. This may sound like a bad thing or a risky thing, until you consider all the ramifications. The rate on my 401K loan was 8% annually, not compounded daily on a daily balance average (credit card interest rates are really effed when you think about them, aren’t they?). The reason most people see this as a risky venture is that you’re messing with your retirement account, your future, and cutting down your potential growth by having less money to compound over time.Amazingly, this isn’t true at all. By paying off your credit card debt, your return on investment is actually the 8% rate you’re paying PLUS the credit card interest rate you’re NO LONGER PAYING. So if you’re credit card rate is, for example, 19%, you’re return on investment in the long run is 8% + 19%, or 27%. Who wouldn’t jump at the chance to invest 25% of their retirement account into a guaranteed return of 27% over a six-year period (the maximum length of repayment on a 401K loan)?Not only was I enjoying that aspect, but the monthly loan payment was several hundred dollars less than the total of the various credit card payments I HAD to make every month, which meant more money in my pocket, so to speak.Additionally, the loan payment comes out of your paycheck pre-tax. You’re not paying your normal 40% tax on that amount, so the real COST of the loan per month is even lower.

10. Cut Up Your CardsDoes this really need any explanation? It’s too easy to fall back into the same trap. Don’t do it. It’s not worth it.And that’s how I got out from under my huge credit card debt, which is something I’ll never have to do again. I keep one card, and use it only in emergencies, and pay off the balance in 1-2 months. I refuse to play a losing game. If I want to do that, I’ll just go to Vegas. At least there’s a small chance I might come out ahead.

A Little Kindness Goes a Long Way

“Don’t sweat the small stuff.” That’s a trendy catch phrase, and in our hectic, fast-paced world, it can be good advice. But there’s more to that quote. What’s not being said is as important as what is being said. Don’t sweat the small stuff, but don’t forget the small stuff either. More often than we realize, a small act can make the difference, affect influence, and change a life.

I grew up in the 1960′s , when parenting and self-help books didn’t have their own section in the bookstore, and raising children was pretty much a seat-of-your-pants type of thing. What your parents learned from their own parents, whether good or bad, was how you were raised. That’s not an indictment. That’s just the way it was. It’s not that my parents were mean-spirited or didn’t love or care for us, it was more that they didn’t know how to express those things, or were too caught up in their own issues to take notice of the four of us and what we needed as children. We did the things all families did: posed for family photos, visited relatives, took vacations, celebrated birthdays and holidays. But in the midst of those family activities there existed an inner layer of turmoil and discomfort.

One year, when I was about seven, we went on a camping trip to a family reunion in South Dakota. Relatives from all around the nation were coming, and it was a chance for us to see many of our cousins, uncles, aunts, or others more distantly related. The last time our family had been to a big reunion, I was much younger, so for all practical purposes, this was the first time in my own memory that I’d meet many of my relatives. And it was one such relative, who, through a very small act, taught me the value of the ‘small stuff’. His name was Morrell Chambers, but everyone called him Uncle Mix.

How he got the nickname Mix, I’m not really certain, but it fit him well, in the sense that he was full of mirth and amusement. He was a solid man, a little round in the waist, with a pronounced nose and square jaw, and a slim mouth that always seemed to be on the verge of a smile. He’d inherited his bald top from his father, although he wasn’t much beyond 40 at the time. But his most distinguishing feature was his blue eyes, eyes that held a constant twinkle, as if they held a secret known only to him, a secret that gave him his ever-present sense of joviality and peace.

It was only natural that a seven-year old boy like me would be drawn to someone like Uncle Mix, and I spent quite a bit of my time lingering in his presence. It made me feel good, and he put up with my active mind, full of questions and wondering, as if it were second nature to him.

One day he decided to do some fishing, and of course, I tagged along behind him, walking along the edge of the lake and up to the boat dock. He carried a nice looking rod and reel, and a tackle box that, to me, was so big that it could probably hold the contents of an entire bait shop. Up to that time, my experience with fishing had pretty much been a bamboo pole with a string, hook, and bobber, so I was amazed when he opened the box, and the nested trays bloomed out, revealing the most colorful assortment of fishing lures I’d ever seen. I was fascinated by all the bright, shiny, mysterious objects, and squatted down for a better look. I didn’t dare touch anything, although I was greatly tempted. With a broad grin, Uncle Mix pointed out this one and that one, explaining what each was for, and how it was used. I muttered a few, “Oh!”s, as if I really understood what he was talking about, and after a few more minutes of explanations, he finished, and moved back a step or two to prepare his pole as I continued to take in all the colors and shapes of everything he’d pointed out. Finally, he lofted his rod and reel, satisfied that it was ready, and stepped forward to where I still crouched over that tackle box. Seeing the tops of his black shoes broke my spell of wonder and awe, and I looked up at him. He smiled down at me, eyes glittering, and then he said something I’ll never forget. “Why don’t you pick one of those that you really like, and you can keep it,” he said simply, so matter-of-fact, as if it was a natural thing to give something I considered precious and expensive to me, a young boy he hardly knew. But I was so completely, pleasantly, extraordinarily taken aback, that it literally took me about a minute to register his offer, and when I realized he really did mean it, I was so overwhelmed that I was speechless with excitement. “Go ahead!”, he urged with a chuckle.

I think I could have spent hours deciding, but I was at least mindful that he was ready to leave, so I fairly quickly settled on a red spoon lure that had a curvy, white stripe from end to end on the front, a chrome-bright shiny underside, treble hook on the back end, and a brass eye hook on the top. I lifted it gingerly out of the box, and held it up in front of me.

“Are you sure that’s the one you want?” he asked, still smiling. I nodded absentmindedly, transfixed by red and white, sunlight on chrome, as it swayed and turned in the morning breeze. Uncle Mix stooped down, set his pole to the side, and closed the tackle box. He paused to stare at the lure for a moment, head cocked slightly aside, as if maybe he too could see and feel what I did. Then he scooped up his pole and box, and with a grinning “See you later!” he stepped onto the boat.

I stood and watched him pull away, the boat’s engine gurgling and churning the water into a wake as he made his way out and away. I hadn’t even thought to thank him, but he waved back to me, as if he knew what I was thinking, as if that was his way of telling me that it was OK, that no thanks were needed.

I don’t remember much of anything else specific to that reunion, other than that I somehow managed to get a pole with a reel, no doubt from a cousin or some other relative, and spent hour after hour casting that lure, my lure, my gift, out into the water along the shore, not so much interested in catching fish, but more to watch it spin beneath the water, strobing red and silver, feeling the vibration in my hands as I cranked the reel. I was in seven-year-old heaven, and I was probably as happy as I ever have been.

I wish I had the opportunity to tell him what he did for me that day, but he died of a heart attack at a relatively young age while walking up the stairs of the school where he loved to teach. The news of his passing caused me to remember that day on the lake, and the memory of that precious moment in time began to take on new significance. Uncle Mix was just a giving type of person, and he probably never gave it another thought, but that small act gave me hope, and taught me that kindness and goodness have a place in the world. That was the real gift he gave me, a gift that changed my outlook on life, and shaped my character in a way that few other life events ever could.

And so, I thank Uncle Mix every time I hold a door for a stranger, help someone pick up spilled groceries, spend an extra moment listening to someone that needs to be heard, or one of a thousand other things that anyone can do to show kindness or consideration to others. And I share with my children the story of a small boy and a great man, and that moment by the lake on a warm summer morning, that they might picture in their minds the flashing of the lure, and in it, catch a glimpse of a man they never met, yet can still get to know, through me.