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4 Spices for Your Brain

4 Spices for Your Brain

Scientists used to think that you were born with all the neurons you’d ever have. If you drank alcohol and killed brain cells, well, good luck. Then in 1998 researchers discovered the birth of new neurons in individuals who were near death. Turns out your brain–no matter how old or young–can generate new neurons.

One key to brain growth? Diet. What you eat helps generate healthy neurons with bushels of dendrites (nerve receptors). It also keeps nerve endings firing and allows you to maintain brain flexibility. Even if your memory’s so fried you can’t remember your spouse’s cell phone number, food still provides brain sustenance.

We’ve been in food information overkill ever since scientists discovered that you are what you eat. Contradictory studies analyze every type of food, vitamin, mineral, herb, and combination thereof. Even so, research does reveal old-time wisdom: what you swallow makes you smarter and happier (or slower and more blue).

 

Turmeric. So, will a little Indian curry help your brain? The chemical curcumin that makes turmeric yellow appears to activate a key antioxidizing enzyme that reduces plaque buildup. It also is an anti-inflammatory that fights some cancers and multiple sclerosis.

Saffron fights depression in humans, as well as improving learning and memory in animals. Saffron twice daily was as effective as Prozac in treating mild to moderate depression, according to a 2005 study in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology.

Sage, the aptly names herb, is a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. Chinese sage root contains compounds similar to Alzheimer’s disease drugs, and just 50 microliters (.001690 fl oz) of sage oil extract significantly enhanced memory, according to research in Pharmacological Biochemical Behavior. SAge is a great addition to salads, in soups, even on pizza. It tastes and smells better fresh.

Cinnamon. A whiff of cinnamon boosts your brain. Even cinnamon-flavored gum enhances memory, visual-motor speed, recognition, attention, and focus. Cinnamon is a wonder spice: it helps to regulate sugar levels; reduces proliferation of leukemia and lymphoma cancer cells; reduces clotting of blood platelets; acts as a antimicrobial, which means it helps with yeast infections; contains the trace mineral manganese and is a very good source of dietary fiber, iron, and calcium. Try some apples and cinnamon for a snack–especially for your kids before homework.

Excerpted from A Better Brain at Any Age (Conari Press, 2009) by Sandra Kornblatt.

Read more: Eating for Health, Food, Health, Mental Wellness

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Melissa Breyer

Melissa Breyer is a writer and editor with a background in sustainable living, specializing in food, science and design. She is the co-author of True Food (National Geographic) and has edited and written for regional and international books and periodicals, including The New York Times Magazine. Melissa lives in Brooklyn, NY.

141 comments

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9:49PM PDT on Jul 31, 2014

thank you bless you

6:31AM PDT on Mar 20, 2014

Thanks for sharing

4:02PM PST on Jan 11, 2014

Chinese sage root and sage sound very different to me, more info please.

12:21AM PDT on Sep 28, 2013

Thanks.

4:56PM PDT on Sep 13, 2013

Thanks , love cinnamon !

8:42AM PDT on Aug 10, 2013

Interesting,thanks for sharing

10:53AM PDT on Aug 7, 2013

TY

9:10PM PDT on Jul 17, 2013

Thank you for the excellent information!

11:46AM PDT on Jul 17, 2013

14 Superfoods for a super brain
Certain foods boost brain power and work more than others. 14 The following superfoods are excellent sources of nutrients that nourish the brain and the body.
Whole grains: Whole grain foods such as breads and cereals provide the necessary folate, which brings oxygen-rich blood to the brain and contain vitamin B6 and thiamine. Whole grains can increase memory and focus. Whole grain foods also contribute to the levels of energy would continue stabilizing blood sugar levels. Eggs: Eggs are rich in choline which helps boost memory and concentration. Eggs are easy to cook and delicious for all meal or snacks. They are also an excellent source of protein and can contribute to energy levels. Nuts: Nuts are excellent sources of omega-3 and omega-6 as well as vitamins E and B6, which help to equalize the levels of serotonin in the brain. Almonds offer riboflavin nutrient that boosts memory. Pecans are high in choline which encourages memory and brain development. Cashews are rich sources of magnesium, which helps deliver more oxygen to the brain. Berries (including strawberries, blackberries and blueberries): Ellagic acid in blueberries protects brain cells from damage. Antioxidants are found in anthocyanins found in strawberries and blackberries can prevent degenerative brain diseases. The berries can improve memory and cognitive skills and help communication between brain cells. Seeds: Seeds and nuts can improve mood and brain function by providing

3:56AM PDT on May 25, 2013

Very good article. Thank you for sharing.

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