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Brain Food

Brain foods are those foods which improve brain function. A diet heavy in omega-3 fatty acids, for example can help keep the blood vessels of the brain clear of blockages and allow nerve cells to function at a high level. So you may want to eat your fish twice a week (A major source of omega-3s) or take a supplement.

It is equally important, however, to recognize the foods that diminish brain power. Alcohol and some other drugs just kill brain cells directly, but there are many less obvious brain-attacking foods. Artery clogging foods can lead to restricted blood flow to the brain, and high-glycemic-index foods can cause terrible blood-sugar swings that make both your body and your mind irritable and sluggish.

Sex and chocolate 'boost brain power'

Lots of sex, dark chocolate and the Scandinavian routine of cold meat for breakfast are the best ways to boost brain power, a new book claims. And watching soap operas, mixing with serial moaners and fat-free diets should be avoided in the quest for increased mental ability, the book says.

Much of the advice in Teach Yourself Training Your Brain is unconventional, but its co-authors, Terry Horne and Simon Wootton, say it is based on leading scientific research. They claim that people can combat the considered wisdom that the brain deteriorates with age.

Mr Horne, a university lecturer, said: "For decades we have thought that the capacity of our brains is genetically determined, whereas it's now clear it's a lifestyle choice. "People can make lifestyle choices that will not only prevent what used to be seen as an inevitable decline in cognitive ability after the age of 17, but will constantly increase it throughout our adult lives. "Our suggestions will empower people to develop their cognitive capacity or just to let it die.

The book analyses how diet, the environment and stress affect mental capacity. It offers advice and mental exercises for people hoping to increase their brain power.

Much of the book's suggestions are based upon the chemicals that certain activities release in the body. It says that sexual intercourse increases the body's levels of the hormone oxytocin, which induces a readiness to think of novel solutions, while the post-coital rise in serotonin levels also helps both creative thinking and logic.

In terms of food, the book suggests that the hidden ingredients of dark chocolate - such as magnesium and antioxidants - help get more oxygen to the brain. It also recommends eating cold meat for breakfast to increase the body's energy levels and nutrient intake.

The authors will be hoping the book cashes in on the increasingly lucrative brain-training market - the games manufacturer Nintendo has sold 10 million of its hand-held Brain Age games this year.

The book also advises on the kind of company one should keep. Mr Horne said: "Mix with people who make you laugh. Avoid people who whinge, as people who are negative will make you depressed.

How to get most out of food for your brain:

• Do eat oily fish, which are high in omega 3 fatty acids
• Do eat broccoli, a great source of vitamin K
• Do eat a diet rich in wholegrain foods such as cereals and pasta
• Do eat tomatoes, high in antioxidants
• Do eat blackcurrants, rich in Vitamin C
• Don't drink too much alcohol, which kills off brain cells
• Don't skip breakfast, it's a vital source of the energy
• Don't eat too many high-fat foods
• Don't eat too much junk food or drink too many fizzy drinks

Good Brain Foods Bad Brain Foods
Beef, lean
Brewer's yeast
Brown rice
Brussels sprouts
Collard greens
Flaxseed oil
Peanut butter
Romaine lettuce
Wheat germ
Artificial food colorings
Artificial sweeteners
Corn syrup
High-sugar "drinks"
Hydrogenated fats
Junk sugars
White bread

Any questions??