That raisin, he claimed, provoked allergic cravings, which led to a carbohydrate binge, which in turn altered his brain chemistry, causing him to scream at his wife. Divorce papers arrived soon thereafter.
Whether you’re a wackjob orthorexic like this guy, or just your average “Sugar makes me act crazy!” kind of gal, there’s no denying that food affects how our brains work. But did you know certain foods may actually make you smarter? School’s back in session, so put these six foods on your shopping list to improve your (and your kids’) memory, focus, and overall performance:
A 2009 Appetite study found that when women consumed a low-carb diet, their memory suffered; when they reintroduced good carbs (like fruits, vegetables and whole grains), their memory performance returned to normal. Oatmeal – a high-fiber whole grain – is digested slowly, fueling your brain with a more sustained energy source. In fact, in one Tufts University study, oatmeal-eaters displayed significantly better spatial-memory skills (such as IDing states on a map) compared to those who ate cold cereal or no breakfast at all.
Iron allows your body to send oxygen-carrying red blood cells to the brain; even a modest deficiency can lead you blanking in work meetings or your child feeling a bit ADD in class. Young women are especially at risk, as iron is lost during menstruation. The human body absorbs more iron from meat than any other sources; that said, vegetarians can still meet their daily needs with beans, dark, leafy greens like spinach, eggs, iron-fortified cereals, breads and pastas, and dried fruit. Vitamin C enhances iron absorption so top your extra lean burger with a few tomato slices.
One company is now marketing blueberries as “Brainberries,” and with good reason: Chockfull of antioxidants, a major study conducted by Tufts University and the USDA found that a diet rich in blueberry extract improved short term memory loss and reversed some loss of coordination and balance in aging rats; researchers theorize that similar effects could occur in humans. Whip up a Brainberry smoothie or layer them with Greek yogurt and low-fat granola in a parfait.
This fish is packed with omega 3 fatty acids, crucial for brain function and development. Research has even linked them with a decreased risk of dementia later on in life. Stay sharp with two servings of fatty fish, like salmon, every week – swap it in for tuna in your sandwich, munch on a spicy salmon roll or just enjoy it grilled simply with salt, pepper and lemon.
Don’t ditch that egg yolk; it’s rich in choline, a vitamin-like building block of the memory-forming brain chemical acetylcholine. And considering that intense exercise can actually lower the body’s choline levels, which has been shown to impair physical endurance and performance, upping your choline intake may help you last longer in the gym. Snack on a hardboiled egg sprinkled with cracked pepper.
A 2007 Physiology and Behavior study found that a sugary afternoon snack boosted memory performance. That’s because your brain’s favorite fuel source is glucose, which your body creates from the sugars and carbohydrates you eat. But this isn’t a license to strap a bag of Swedish fish to your face: Too much sugar can leave you feeling sluggish and may actually harm your memory. Try 16 Sour Patch Kids or 25 jelly beans.