Brain development begins at conception, continues to develop and change through adolescence, and extends beyond into adulthood. It is phenomenal. Billions of neurons are formed in the brain. During the first few months of life (in the womb) 50,000 - 100,000 new brain cells are generated each second.
Scientists used to think that we lost brain cells as we age, but now we know that is not true. Our brains actually function better after age 40, due to the fact that in middle age we reach the height of our abilities in inductive reasoning, spatial orientation, vocabulary and verbal memory.
Barbara Strauch, deputy science editor of the New York Times and author of The Secret Life of the Grown-Up Brain, explains that "it's only when we get older that we start to really connect the dots. Humans and animals do better in situations when they've seen patterns before. At midlife, your brain has seen a lot of patterns. You're more creative. You get arguments better and have more social expertise." As we age, we fill our brains with experience, which we can quickly tap into to assess situations. In youth, we don't usually have the experience or the control to make the most out of what life puts in front of us.
A healthy balanced diet is vital for the development of the brain and its cognitive abilities. Fruit is an excellent source of brain food ~ the carbs have long chains of sugar that the body breaks down gradually, releasing fuel to the brain over time. Kids need to be eating fruit in the mornings before school.
Here are our favorite optimal brain (and body) foods:
Blueberries ~ eating 1-2 cups daily is believed to slow and even reverse age-related brain decline, improve short term memory loss and help reverse age-related loss of balance...in addition to providing anti-aging, anti-cancer and disease fighting benefits. Researchers in England found that blueberries boosts concentration and memory up to five hours after eating.
Wild Salmon ~ True Brain Food. One of the best sources of essential fatty acids such as the all-important Omega 3. It is a rich source of high quality non-land animal protein, has low saturated fat, and has generally the lowest amount of contaminants among seafood. The way wild salmon grow and survive makes their muscles, tissues and fat levels much healthier than farmed salmon.
Acai Berries ~ (Look for flash-frozen because in the U.S. finding fresh acai berries is next to impossible.) These Central & South American berries are related to blueberry, cranberry and other dark purple fruits. Not only do acai berries have all the anti-oxidant, vitamins and brain benefits of other dark berries, they also contain essential fatty acids like Omega 3's and are also high in protein.
Red Apples ~ there is a lot of truth in the old adage: An Apple A Day! Research in 2005/2006 at Cornell University & Agri-Food Canada showed that a group of chemicals called phenolics (high in Red Delicious & Northern Spy Apples as well as their juices) helps protect our brains from degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's...as well as reducing the risk of prostate, colon and lung cancers.
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