5 Foods for Concentration, Memory & Mood

By Ashlyn Hlafka and Kassandra Emery

Occupational Therapy is a health care profession that focuses on the meaningful activities that each of us does every day. We can’t function on a daily basis if we don’t feel like our normal selves.

So, if you’re feeling hungry, stressed or tired, here are five suggested brain foods to get you back on track!

But, before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s talk about just what brain foods are exactly. According to Be Brain Fit, brain foods are the types of foods that contain all of the building blocks to properly and adequately nourish your brain to keep you alert, aware, and at ease. Specifically, these foods will be:

  1. High in nutrients to create, protect, and repair damaged brain cells,
  2. Provide a supply of chemical building blocks that translate messages within the brain, and
  3. Are rich in essential nutrients that affect susceptibility to mental disorders today and degenerative brain diseases down the road.

1. Sea Vegetables

This forgotten food commonly enjoyed as sushi has quite a few benefits for the body and mind, but the top two benefits for memory and mood are the content of taurine and inositol.

  • “Nature’s Valium,” also known as the neurotransmitter GABA, is released by taurine. This inhibits anxious feelings during times of stress, like midterms or major life changes.
  • Inositol acts like the Blackboard of the brain – it connects the dots between information just as Bb connects students to teachers. Neurotransmitters, the chemical Gmail of the brain, rely upon inositol to relay important messages.

2. Walnuts

Feeling nutty for trying brain foods? Well, walnuts are just the snack for you!

A specific study has found that eating walnuts improves reflex reactions as well as your ability to learn new things and remember old knowledge. This can be especially helpful when trying to remember what you learned the first week of the semester before taking a final.

Walnuts also are one of the few foods that contain a natural supply of serotonin, which can elevate your mood on a rainy day.

3. Turmeric

This spice can be added as extra flavoring to anything you decide to cook, and if you still live at home, your mom probably has some turmeric in the spice cabinet.

One of the amazing properties of turmeric is that it is often described as a natural version of Prozac, a common anti-depressant. So if you feel overwhelmed but are concerned about the side effects of most anti-depressant medications, you might try adding turmeric to a few meals a week. Turmeric is a safe spice that will not have negative effects on the body when used for long periods of time, even indefinitely.

Originating from India, we see that Indian seniors display some of the lowest rates of Alzheimer’s in the world – possibly due to a regular intake of turmeric in their diets. Curcumin, an active compound within turmeric, increases the brain’s production of BDNF, which can break up brain plaques that are thought to be related or even cause Alzheimer’s.

4. Olive Oil

Olive oil, while seemingly a fatty substance, actually contains monounsaturated fats as well as vitamins E and K, all of which are known to support memory. Olive oil also increases the levels of BDNF in the brain, which inhibits depressive tendencies as well as the feelings of stress.

So by using extra virgin olive oil (instead of canola oil or vegetable oil, which contain trans fats), you can lower the risk of depression by nearly 50 percent just by how you cook a meal.

5. Coconut Oil

Coconut oil from the “tree of life” has been previously put down for its high content of saturated fats, but people who incorporate this into their eating habits are typically quite healthy. Coconut oil is also known for its ability to inhibit depressive tendencies as well as feelings of stress, and can also postpone the aging process in the brain. Specifically, coconut oil is known to reduce the abundance of plaques related to Alzheimer’s disease.

So next time you have frizzy hair, rough skin, and a frazzled mind before finals or a big day at work, use some coconut oil for your hair, skin, and brain to make you feel confident and focused!

What are some of your favorite brain foods for chaotic, stressful times in your own lives? Let us know in the comments below, and thanks for reading!


6 Benefits of using the Wii for Occupational Therapy

By Ashley Heron, OTAS and Hannah Robeen, OTAS

Look around you and what do you see? Everyone and or everything revolves around electronics and technology nowadays.

Phones, tablets, televisions, blue tooth headphones, even some cars can parallel park themselves! With the world wirelessly changing it’s no surprise that Occupational Therapy would jump on the wagon.

The Nintendo Wii has proven to be very beneficial for clients of all diagnoses and disorders as part of an occupational therapy treatment plan, especially during cold weather.

Below we have included why Occupational Therapy Practitioners love using the Wii with clients!

Image Source

Nintendo Wii – Image Source

1. Cost Effective

The Wii is cheaper than most tools used in the OT world and is well known. There are tons of different games clients can play that work with different abilities and many simulate everyday activities.

2. Saves Energy

Clients who don’t have enough endurance can become tired easily. With the Wii, the clients can be seated while working on upper body movements. This way the clients can save their energy for other daily activities.

3. It is fun!

The Wii games are more fun than traditional exercises and are visually pleasing. Clients who enjoy bowling, boxing, tennis, golf or any other leisure activities can virtually experience them while working on strength and mobility.

“Adding fun can be an effective way to make activity purposeful and meaningful.” ~ www.myotspot.com

4. Helps Prevent Falls

Most of the Wii games increase strength and endurance while also working on balance. Clients can work on restoring or establishing muscle strength by playing the Wii.

5. Encourages Social Interaction

The Wii encourages clients to play with others and can even create a little competition. By playing with others the client’s motivation can increase and it can inspire the clients to participate.

6. Increases Mental functions

“By playing games on the Wii, clients will be focused on moving the virtual character rather than thinking about left, right, up, and down.” ~ www.myotspot.com

Most games work on problem-solving, timing, and sequencing actions.

Your Turn

What skills have you used while playing the Wii? Let us know in the comments below.