2018 will bring about a new set of New Year’s resolutions; the most popular being staying fit and healthy and enjoying life to the fullest. Here’s food for thought: why not resolve to boost your brain health too.
Superfoods such as herbs and spices have always been the ultimate in good thinking: from ancient Ayurvedic practices and traditional Chinese medicine, to counteracting our modern-day diet and soil deficiencies. These nutrient-rich and flavorful ingredients help repair brain cells, charge our memories and improve our focus and mood.
Here are some simple tips for incorporating five-a-day into your diet. Fresh is best to gain maximum health benefits.
Inhaling the pine-like aromatic smell of rosemary is an effective way to “wake-up” on those tired mornings when you wish you could hit the snooze button! Rosemary acts as a muscle relaxant and enhances blood flow. The increased circulation to our brain helps to improve mental clarity and memory.
- Rosemary + lemon + raspberry infused water
- Rosemary salt (sprinkled on sweet potato hash, poached egg & avocado)
- Rosemary infused oil (drizzle over roasted vegetables, fish or sautéed with mushrooms)
Gingko biloba (also known as gingko or maidenhair tree)
The oldest living tree species of the world, gingko is native to China and widely cultivated. Gingko leaf extract is revered for its memory boosting and concentration abilities as it improves our brain’s metabolism (use) of glucose and oxygen. It contains anti-oxidants and a range of phytochemicals, which are the secret agents your body needs to fight disease. Gingko has also been studied as a treatment for Alzheimer’s and depression.
Note: Ginkgo is a blood thinner and should not be used in conjunction with NSAIDs, ibuprofen, aspirin, warfarin or any other blood-thinning medications.
- Enjoy gingko as a tea (use leftover tea in smoothies as a brain booster!)
Gotu kola (also known as centella asiatica)
Known in Ayurvedic medicine as a revitalizing herb, Sri Lankans note that elephants (who are known for their longevity) munch on gotu kola leaves! This amazing herb also strengthens the nervous system. As a brain tonic, it’s believed to aid in intelligence and boost memory, and it can also get to work on varicose veins, psoriasis and skin lesions.
- Enjoy gotu kola as a tea
- You can find gotu kola in many creams for would healing (ask your health care provider if one is right for you)
A member of the mint family, fragrant sage is used to clear out negative energy in a room and is also a savory herb that can be added to your brain-boosting regime. Sage essential oil is said to enhance memory and cognitive function.
- Sage roasted pineapple, fish or poultry
- Sage infused vinegar (for salads and dressings)
- Sage pesto
- Sage infused honey (go on, try it)
- Sage salt (rim a cocktail glass!)
As one of the most powerful anti-inflammatory foods in the plant-based world, turmeric root contains a compound called curcumin, which fights inflammation and plaque buildup in the brain that can lead to Alzheimer’s disease.
Add black pepper to boost the health benefits of turmeric, as this aids the absorption of curcumin.
- Poached carrots with turmeric ghee (or grass fed butter)
- Turmeric roasted cauliflower
Because herbs and spices may interact with medications, or are contraindicated in certain health conditions, always consult with your healthcare provider.
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