I shook my head in utter disbelief when a friend blushingly told me she had locked her infant son in the back seat of her car alongside her handbag containing the car keys. Fortunately, it was cool that day so baby was not trapped in a sweltering vehicle, and roadside service came to the rescue in minutes.
One month later, I again shook my head in utter disbelief when I did the same thing, minus the baby.
I popped the trunk to deposit my groceries, when the lid ricocheted, bonked me on the head, causing me to drop my keys in the trunk as I robotically slammed it shut. The doors instantly locked, activating the alarm system, so even an adept car thief could not prod open that stubborn trunk.
After two hours in the parking lot, the team of frustrated roadside service guys ended up towing me to the dealership where my vehicle was connected to their computer to program the trunk to “open sesame,” and retrieve my keys and bags of rotting groceries.
Why are we not as alert as we should be?
Sleep deprivation, stress and poor diet are the perfect storm for these mishaps. Eating a magical combination of foods has been linked to better energy, alertness and even focus and concentration — especially for students as final exams hover.
Oil and Lube
Put the skids on red meat and do red snapper or other omega-3 fatty acid powerhouses instead, especially wild-caught, deep sea, cold-water ones like salmon, herring, sardines and mackerel.
DHA, one of the key omega-3s in fish, is also a vital fatty acid in grey matter, so eating a diet rich in omega-3s keeps brain cells well-lubricated and vibrant, improving mood, brain wiring and cell-to-cell communications — and that translates into thinking quick on your feet. Vegans can load up on seaweed and other oceanic veggies that are also treasure-troves for keeping the brain on its toes.
Nuts and Bolts
The wonderful walnut, packed with alpha-linolenic acid (the plant’s version of brain-boosting omega-3s) fittingly resembles miniature hemispheres of the brain. Walnuts’ omega-3s increase cognitive functioning similar to omega-3s from animal sources by keeping the brain lubricated and in high gear, and preventing inflammation by blocking signals produced by nasty free radicals.
Walnuts have also been found to hike melatonin levels, one of the sleep regulating hormones in the body. So if you’re short on zzz’s, munch on some walnuts before bedtime so you’re well-rested and alert in the a.m.
Concoct a batch of sweet and savory candied walnuts and toss in your cereal, salads or enjoy solo. Dial up on pumpkin and sunflower seeds for more defensive maneuvers as these contain tryptophan, which the brain converts into the neurotransmitter serotonin, so anxiety takes a pit stop.
Juice Your Batteries
More than 100-million people jump-start their days with a java jolt. The coffee bean (like its close cousin the cocoa bean) is an antioxidant warrior packed with vitamins and minerals. Brain-friendly caffeine, the latter linked to boosting short-term memory, increases focus and problem solving skills. After decades of debate, coffee is now considered a high-octane brain fuel when consumed in moderate amounts. Just don’t overdose on the battery acid that will have the effect of jacking up the jitters.
Blueberries, a purple powerhouse are packed with micronutrients, including Vitamins B6, C and K along with manganese, antioxidant pigments and phytochemicals for recharging long-term memory and cognitive processing. Studies have shown wild blueberries may lessen deterioration in Alzheimer’s patients by shielding the brain from free-radical attack. Toss them in your muffins, oatmeal, pancake batter, yoghurt and rejoice!
Mint has been linked to hiking up concentration and the ability to recall information. So before an exam, chew a refreshing mint leaf, sip a cool glass of mint-infused H2O or suck on a natural mint candy to dial up your test scores.
By Catharine Kaufman