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How to get the Most from your Brain this School Year
One of the most important factors in selecting a diet to enhance brain function is to make sure there is adequate protein. Proteins are used by the body to make neurotransmitters, the chemicals released by brain cells to communicate with each other. They prevent surges in blood sugar which can cause hyperactivity and brain fog . It is important to start your day with a breakfast that includes it. Foods rich in protein include lean meats, fish, eggs, beans, nuts, and dairy. Even if you are on the run, a high protein smoothie can start your day right.
One brain chemical responsible for focusing and drugs such as Ritalin try to imitate is dopamine. The brain cells which "manufacture" dopamine use l-phenylalanine as a "raw
material" (precursor.) Sources of phenylalanine are high-protein foods such as meat, cottage cheese, and wheat germ.
Conversely, one food that affects dopamine levels in the brain negatively is sugar. Sugar is a powerful trigger for dopamine release in the brain and as a result floods cells. This is not necessarily good as the brain tries to bring dopamine activity back to normal by reducing the number of dopamine receptors resulting in taking more sugar to produce the same effect. However if a person keeps eating sugar, there may be times when the brain cells run low on dopamine from being stimulated so frequently. So when preparing school lunches, avoid sugar, increase protein and provide lots of water as dehydration can affect short and long term memory.
Increase your antioxidants
Dopamine is easy to oxidize and antioxidants may reduce free radical damage to brain cells that produce dopamine. Pycnogenol or Grape Seed Extract are excellent for this. These contain proanthocyanidins also help transport essential nutrients to the brain. These include zinc, magnesium, selenium and copper.