People who consider themselves "starving artists" may die of hunger more than their bodies. Your creativity may also be suffering.
Contrary to popular belief, many artists rely on nutritious foods. In his memoirs, "The Alice B. Toklas Cook Book," Alice B. Toklas, who played a role as a companion, friend and cook to Gertrude Stein, with dishes invented for many creative giants, talked about the diet recommended by physicians Pablo Picasso, who highlighted the fish and spinach. Ernest Hemingway, depending on what was available, ate fish, meat, avocados, other fruits and wine. Numerous artists of today, such as actress Mayim Bialik, singer / songwriter Fiona Apple and actor / producer Brad Pitt, eat vegetable-based diets. While the effects of artists' diets on their works remain unknown, researchers have learned a great deal about the importance of nutrition to the brain in the general population.
Not everyone strives for the level of creative expression and success of Picasso or Hemingway. And other factors, such as personal interests, your upbringing and genetics play an important role. But if you're a Picasso or just want to improve your ability to function creatively at work, school or play, healthy dietary changes make a positive difference.
If you think of the brain as an engine, it will work better with high-grade fuel. That is what provides a healthy diet for the brain.
Paul E. Bendheim, neurologist
Without enough calories and nutrients, the brain suffers. And with it, your ability to form and create new ideas.
Your brain requires twice as much energy as the rest of the cells in the body. It works with glucose, a form of sugar harvested from carbohydrates. Since glucose can not be stored, the brain relies on the bloodstream for a constant supply. But that does not mean you have to fill up on sugar-laden foods.
"If you think of the brain as a motor," said Paul E. Bendheim, neurologist, founder of BrainSavers and author of "The Brain Training Revolution: A Proven Workout for Healthy Brain Aging," "it's going to work better with high-grade fuel, that's what provides a healthy diet for the brain. "
This diet emphasizes whole foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds and fish. And while many studies positively link enhanced brain function with healthy foods, taking nutrients in supplement form has not proven effective.
"Study after study does not show a benefit when you take nutrients in isolation, like most supplements," Bendheim said. "They are not in their natural matrix the same way they are in real, unprocessed foods.".
Fruits and vegetables rich in antioxidants not only stimulate brain function in general, but also protect against progressive cognitive decline, increasing your chances of staying creatively strong throughout your life.
In 2005, researchers at the Harvard Medical School examined the data collected from more than 13,000 women aged 70 years and older. Women who ate abundant vegetables, especially cruciferous varieties, such as broccoli and Brussels sprouts, and green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, showed the slowest rate of cognitive decline compared to women who did not. Other fruits and vegetables rich in antioxidants, which tend to be colored, include berries, red grapes, citrus fruits, carrots, artichokes, peppers and winter squash.
Changing refined grains, such as white flour and instant rice, for whole grains, such as oats, barley and brown rice, also increases the intake of antioxidants. And because they have a glycemic index, or the level of impact of low blood sugar, incorporating fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds and low-fat dairy products into your diet helps maintain the constant flow of energy to the brain.
For protein, choose mostly lean sources, such as fish, beans, lentils and low-fat yogurt. Consuming a lot of unhealthy fat, which is found frequently in whole milk products, fatty meats and fried foods, damages your heart, arteries and brain.
"If you want to give your brain all the advantages, you want to reduce the amount of saturated fatty foods you eat in your diet," Bendheim said.
Cold water fish, such as salmon and mackerel, provide the added benefits of omega-3 fatty acids, nutrients that play an important role in brain function.
Create your plate
Emphasizing healthy eating is just one part of improving creativity. Your general habits, such as the frequency with which you eat, should promote positive hormone and blood sugar levels, these are factors that make way for stable moods and clear thinking.
"The key to good nutrition for the brain and body is to give your body what it needs in a regular and consistent way," said Jae Berman, registered dietitian and personal trainer at Bay Club San Francisco. your body will work for you and not against you. "
This can mean eating three balanced meals and one to three healthy snacks or five or six "mini" meals throughout each day.And most of your meals should contain the three macronutrients: Carbohydrates, proteins and fats.
"If you look at your plate and it's always a fruit, starch or vegetable, then you're not getting enough protein," Berman said. "If you're eating nuts, sliced processed meats or cheese and do not eat the bread you're not getting enough carbohydrates, your body and your brain need everything, so you work to get a balanced plate at all meals and snacks. "
One way to create balanced meals is the" plate method ". At each meal, imagine a line that goes to the center of the plate, half of it filled with vegetables, such as spinach and tomatoes, a quarter with protein, like grilled salmon, which also contains healthy fats, and the remaining quarter with a healthy starch, such as whole wheat pasta or brown rice.
Here's the good news: You do not need to eliminate your foods, whether they are high in saturated fats and sugar or lacking in vitamins and minerals.
"I tell people it's okay to eat a fudge sundae or a hot donut from time to time," Bendheim said. "That's only bad if you eat this type of highly processed food frequently, but it's Fine if you do it from time to time. "
So do not hesitate in principle to accompany your salmon / vegetable / rice flour with a bit of dark chocolate or a slice of cake. Just do your best to stick to reasonable portion sizes when it comes to fatty and sweet foods or make the larger portions an occasional experience.
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To get the most out of your workouts, eat before and after.
- "Do you want to eat in pre-and post-training hours, and do you want the food to be balanced?" said registered dietitian Jae Berman. Useful options include fruit yogurt, almond butter or peanut butter on whole grain bread and a fresh fruit smoothie.
Plan ahead. Filling your kitchen or workplace with healthy foods that you like helps you avoid eating last minute convenience foods, which often lack the nutrients. Having healthy food around also protects against foggy thinking caused by delayed or sautéed meals.
Look for color. Nutrients give fruits and vegetables their color. By targeting a variety of colors throughout each week, you increase your chances of meeting your needs for vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
Drink a lot. Staying well hydrated helps poor brain function, lethargy and low mood associated with dehydration. Water, infusions, broth-based soups, low-fat milk and fresh products all help hydration.The wine, although it is not moisturizing, provides antioxidants. Adhere to moderate amounts, such as two glasses per day.
Think positively. Instead of focusing on avoiding "bad" foods, consider ways to eat more nutritious foods. Praise yourself for your progress and do not aspire to perfection. "A lot of eating is attitude," said neurologist Paul E. Bendheim. "If you feel good about yourself, you're going to be healthier. healthy for the brain, you'll feel better about yourself. "