Do you find it becoming more and more difficult to concentrate? Do you find yourself struggling to remember simple things throughout your day? Brain fog may be your problem.
The continual decrease in the quality of the American diet is not only increasing our risk for disease, it is having a significant impact on the health of our brain. The good news is there are simple changes to your diet that can help you think more clearly.
A study completed at UCLA and published in the Journal of Physiology found that eating a diet rich in high fructose corn syrup over the long term impaired the brain’s ability to learn and remember. And in contrast a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids helped to minimize the damage.
In the study 2 groups of animals were fed a high fructose solution daily and the second group was also supplemented with omega-3 fatty acids. They found that the animals were much faster navigating a maze when fed a diet including omega-3 fatty acids than those deprived of those nutrients. The brains of those low in dietary omega-3 fats were slower and their brain cells had difficulty signaling each other. This disrupted the animal’s ability to think clearly and recall the maze they had learned 6 weeks earlier.
High fructose corn syrup is found in processed foods, soft drinks, condiments and many other products. According to the USDA, it is estimated that today the average American consumes more than 40 lbs. of high fructose corn syrup each year. Fructose occurs naturally in fruits, but also contains water and beneficial antioxidants important for brain health.
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential in the diet (the body cannot produce them so you must consume them). Sources of omega-3 fats include fish, nuts, flaxseed and meat from grass fed animals. The average American diet is deficient in this important nutrient.
So, what can you do to shift your diet to one lower in high fructose corn syrup and higher in omega 3 fats? Try these tips below:
1. Eliminate soda – switch to water or herbal tea.
2. Cereals – look for those with <5g/sugar.
3. Reduce intake of “sweet treats”.
4. Read labels – check the ingredient list and choose options without high fructose corn syrup in foods like – breads, desserts, kid’s cereal, yogurt, spaghetti sauce, ketchup or other condiments.
5. Snack on nuts and seeds in moderation (1 oz. = 1 serving).
6. Choose fatty fish 2 times/week – wild caught salmon, tuna, mackerel, sardines, herring.
7. Choose grass fed beef.
8. Choose omega-3 rich eggs.
9. Sprinkle ground flaxseed on yogurt, cereal or hot dishes.
10. Eat real food! If you don’t recognize the ingredients, put it back on the shelf.
In addition, be cautious of what you see on the store shelves. Many products today claim to contain added Omega-3 fats though their quantities may be well below your needs. Stick to real foods that are not processed and you will be off to a good start.
Added Bonus! What I love about a healthy diet is the benefits of good foods can impact so many areas of your body and achieving good health. Not only will reduction of high fructose corn syrup and an increase in omega-3 fatty acids prevent brain fog this can also help you to lose weight, reduce fatigue and decrease inflammation throughout the body. Simple changes for great health!
If you are ready to prepare a healthy dinner rich in omega-3’s try the recipe below:
Pepper Seared Tuna with Mango Relish (serves 4)
6 TB chopped fresh cilantro, or 2 TB ground coriander
Salt to taste
½ tsp. black pepper, coarsely ground
4 (6-oz) fresh tuna steaks
Nonstick cooking spray
Peel mangoes and dice the flesh into ¼ inch pieces. Transfer to a small bowl. Add cilantro or coriander and a pinch of salt, mix well. Place mango relish in refrigerator to chill for at least 30 minutes. Lightly press black pepper into one side of each tuna steak. Sprinkle with salt. Place the fish, pepper-side down, in a large skillet coated with nonstick cooking spray. Cook on both sides over medium-high heat until the fish is seared on the outside but still very slightly pink in the center (to a temperature of 145° F. Mound mango relish on top of each tuna steak. (1 piece of tuna with ½ cup mango relish: 252 calories, 2 g fat, 0.4 g saturated fat, 18 g carb, 40 g protein, 2 g fiber)