The 7 Best Brain-Boosting Foods

african american man sitting with a cup of coffee on the counter(BlackDoctor.org) – There’s an amazing amount of buzz out there about the best ways to sharpen focus and concentration and to enhance memory, attention span, and brain function.

But what really works? There’s no denying that as we age chronologically, our body ages right along with us. The good news is that you can increase your brain’s ability to continue functioning as efficiently as ever.

Brain Boosters To Try:

Caffeine
There’s no magic bullet to boost IQ or make you smarter — but certain substances, like caffeine, can energize and help you focus and concentrate. Found in coffee, chocolate, energy drinks, and some medications, caffeine gives you that unmistakable wake-up buzz — though the effects are short term. And more is often less: Overdo it on caffeine and it can make you jittery and uncomfortable.

Sugar
Sugar is your brain’s preferred fuel source — not table sugar, but glucose, which your body metabolizes from the sugars and carbohydrates you eat. That’s why a glass of something sweet to drink can offer a short-term boost to memory, thinking processes, and mental ability.

Consume too much, however, and memory can be impaired — along with the rest of you. Go easy on the sugar so it can enhance memory, without packing on the pounds.

Breakfast
Tempted to skip breakfast? Studies have found that eating breakfast may improve short-term memory and attention. Students who eat breakfast tend to perform significantly better than those who don’t. Foods at the top of researchers’ brain fuel list include high-fiber whole grains, dairy, and fruits. Just don’t overeat; researchers also found high-calorie breakfasts appear to hinder concentration.

Fish
A protein source associated with a great brain boost is fish — rich in omega 3 fatty acids, essential for brain function and development. These healthy fats have amazing brain power: higher dietary omega 3 fatty acids are linked to lower dementia and stroke risks; slower mental decline; and may play a vital role in enhancing memory, especially as we get older. For brain and heart health, eat two servings of fish weekly.

Nuts & Chocolate
Nuts and seeds are good sources of the antioxidant vitamin E, which is associated with less cognitive decline as you age. Dark chocolate also has other powerful antioxidant properties. And it contains natural stimulants like caffeine, which can enhance focus and concentration.

Enjoy up to an ounce a day of nuts and dark chocolate to provide all the benefits you need without excess calories, fat, or sugar.

Avocado & Whole Grains
Every organ in the body depends on blood flow, especially the heart and brain. Eating a diet high in whole grains and fruits like avocados can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and lower bad cholesterol. This reduces your risk of plaque buildup and enhances blood flow, offering a simple, tasty way to fire up brain cells.

Whole grains, like popcorn and whole wheat, also contribute dietary fiber and vitamin E. Though avocados have fat, it’s the good-for-you, monounsaturated fat that contributes to healthy blood flow.

Blueberries
Research in animals shows that blueberries help protect the brain from oxidative stress and may reduce the effects of age-related conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. Studies also show that diets rich in blueberries significantly improved both the learning capacity and motor skills of aging rats, making them mentally equivalent to much younger rats.

A Balanced Diet
It may sound trite but it’s true: If your diet lacks essential nutrients, it can decrease your ability to concentrate. Eating too much or too little can also interfere with your ability to focus. A heavy meal may make you feel lethargic, while too few calories can result in distracting hunger pangs.

Benefit your brain: Strive for a well-balanced diet full of a wide variety of healthy, wholesome foods.

Vitamins, Minerals & Supplements
Store shelves groan with supplements claiming to boost health. Although many of the reports on the brain-boosting power of supplements like vitamins B, C, E, beta-carotene, and magnesium are promising, a supplement is only useful to people whose diets are lacking in that specific nutrient.

Researchers are cautiously optimistic about ginseng, ginkgo, and vitamin, mineral, and herb combinations and their impact on the brain.

Check with your doctor before incorporating any supplements into your diet.

Get Ready for a Big Day
Want to power up your ability to concentrate? Start with a meal of 100% fruit juice, a whole grain bagel with salmon, and a cup of coffee. In addition to eating a well-balanced meal, experts also advise:

• Get a good night’s sleep.
• Stay hydrated.
• Exercise to help sharpen thinking.
• Meditate to clear thinking and relax.

The Essential Guide To Salon-Healthy Hair…At Home

smiling african american woman with long natural hair(BlackDoctor.org) – Raise your hand if you spend hundreds of dollars a month getting your hair done. You shave off a few dollars from grocery money or forgo paying a bill just to get that straight-out-of-the-chair look. And although your hair stylist may give you tips on how to achieve the same thing in the comfort of your own home, you don’t have the confidence in your ability. But the truth is, you can.

The key to healthy and beautiful hair at home is product.  The best products make the best hair!  You can purchase quality products at a salon or beauty supply, or you can make your own from natural ingredients.

In addition to good products, you need to make sure that you give your locks a trim every 6-10 weeks. This will ensure that you grow healthy, strong hair. Allowing hair to become dry and split will only halt the growing process because ends will break off and can split up to the scalp. Biotin supplements can also help to increase the strength and growth of hair and can be found at local health food stores.

Do-It-Yourself Natural Treatments

Anyone can create conditioning and detoxifying treatments at home with natural ingredients. Coconut oil is a great answer for dry scalp, skin and hair. You can find it at your health foods store. Massage coconut on to hair to add shine and moisture. For a detoxifying treat, combine 1 tablespoon of lemon juice with 1 tablespoon of white vinegar and combine with your shampoo when washing. Lemon cleanses hair and scalp while vinegar neutralizes build-up.

No special ingredients are required to make your own organic hair products. Many of the items can be found in your store cupboard right now! Eggs, honey, cider vinegar and olive oil not only make a wonderful salad dressing, but also are great for use on hair to give you smooth, silky locks. The most important thing to remember is that the better quality the ingredients, the better the end result will be. Therefore use the freshest of ingredients wherever possible. The benefit of using certified organic ingredients is that you have the reassurance that the ingredients you are using have been grown without the use of harmful chemicals or chemically derived substances.

Some of the most common ingredients used in homemade hair products are:

•    Eggs
•    Yogurt
•    Fruit
•    Avocado
•    Honey
•    Coconut Oil
•    Cider Vinegar
•    Chamomile
•    Oils

Where the Damage Comes From and How To Avoid It

For at home styling, be sure to always hold your blow-dryer at least 4 inches away from your head and keep the air flow moving. If you focus too long on one spot, you’ll over-drying or burn hair.

Another way to avoid unnecessary damage is to be sure to leave big color changes to the pros! Bleach, highlights and a jump from either end of the color spectrum can be very dangerous at home and can cause extreme damage.

In the end, try to avoid fighting your natural texture too much! Ask your stylist for products that are specific to your hair and for tips on easy styling at home, such as diffusing curls or quick blow-dry techniques. Try to keep big texture changes to a few times a month in order to preserve your hair!

Skip a trip to the salon with these tips to creating healthy, shiny hair:

Shampoo:  If you can, try to shampoo every other day with a shampoo that isn’t too strong.  You don’t want to strip hair by over cleaning it.  Look for a gentle or daily use formula.

Conditioner: Use a moisturizing conditioner whenever you shower.  Comb it through your hair, with a wide tooth comb, before you rinse. This will protect your hair from fading and becoming dry, which in turn will make it shinier.

Deep Conditioner:  Deep condition your hair once a week with.  Use a serum consistency that doesn’t have to be rinsed out.  They’re usually more effective and more convenient.  Look for vitamin E, essential oils, and wheat protein in the ingredients. These conditioners balance and tone your scalp, repair and fortify your hair shaft, prevent split ends, and all of these things lead to healthy, shiny hair.

Protection:  You must protect your hair from the heat of your styling tools (blow dryer, flatiron, curling iron).  Your tools are what damage your hair the most. Before blow-drying, cover damp hair from roots to ends with a blow drying agent.  This will simply protect your hair from the heat.  If you are going to use an iron after you blow dry, mist with hair spray.  It will provide an extra layer of protection from the hottest of the hot tools.

Finish:  Using a finishing shine product is very important.  It will fake it ‘til you make it.  It will add polish and unreal shine to your hair, whether it’s healthy or not. A finishing shine product is completely cosmetic.  Healthy hair is shiny; therefore, shiny hair ‘appears’ healthy!