Brain Gains!

Having a healthy brain and adequate cognitive function is essential. There are certain foods we can include more of in our diets to ensure our brain is performing at its best. Oxidative stress is when there is an imbalance in the number of free radicals and antioxidants in your body. When free radicals are not balanced by antioxidants, they don’t fight off pathogens as well. This can lead to infection, damage to fatty tissue, DNA and proteins. Below is a list of foods to help combat oxidative stress, cognitive decline, and promote healthy brain function.

  • Avocado: Packed with healthy mono-saturated fats, avocados can help improve blood flow to the brain, reduce blood pressure, and support information-carrying nerves in the brain. All of which combat cognitive decline.
  • Berries: Berries contain antioxidants that help reduce oxidative stress and inflammation throughout the brain and body. They can also improve memory.
  • Coffee: With antioxidants that are great for brain function, coffee can increase the brain’s capacity for processing information. 
  • Dark Chocolate: This contains many antioxidants that boost mood and alertness as well as improving brain plasticity which is a key contributor for learning.
  • Fatty fish: Salmon and many other fatty fish contain omega 3 fatty acids which can improve the structure of neurons in the brain and improve blood flow to the brain.
  • Nuts and Seeds: These contain many antioxidants but they are particularly high in Vitamin E, which helps combat oxidative stress and improves cognition.
  • Whole Grains: Whole grains also contain vitamin E and vitamin B, which reduces inflammation. They can also help maintain blood sugar throughout the day, keeping you focused and alert. 

Incorporate more of these foods into your diet and see how much more focused and alert you feel! Whether you are going back to school, trying to stay sharp at work or just performing your best at daily life, we hope these brain-boosting foods could have a positive impact on your life.


Fight the Flu

EVERYONE is panicking about the flu. Maybe you aren’t, because you had a shot. But guess what folks? Everyone is at risk.


You’ve heard that washing your hands is important. I’ll reiterate- wash, wash, wash your hands. In addition, you need to boost your immune system to build a ‘strong defense’ against infection. What foods fight flu? Here is a short list to keep you healthy during flu season.
1) Antioxidant-rich foods: The type of AO will vary according to the source, so don’t go on a ‘berry kick’. Eat the rainbow! Here is non-inclusive list, including some unexpected sources of antioxidants:


v   Blueberries
v   Raspberries
v   Bell Peppers
v   Carrots
v   Squash
v   Tomatoes
v   Granny Smith Apples
v   Pecans
v   Buckwheat honey (higher levels than clover honey)
v   Kale
v   Green or Black Tea
v   Resveratrol- red wine(keep it to 1 glass/day), grapes, grape juice, peanuts
2) Vitamin D is key to fighting illness. Try fortified dairy products or wild-salmon. Yogurt is also an excellent probiotic source, which keeps your digestive system humming along. Load up on the yogurt, but watch out for sugar. No more than 12-13g/6oz. Skip the fruit on the bottom and add your own.
  3) Selenium-rich foods
             > Brazil nuts
             > Seafood: clams, lobster, oysters, tuna
4) H-2-O is essential. Stay hydrated with water, NOT soda.
There are several other components to fighting the flu including adequate sleep and stress management. If you’re not sleeping, stressed out or both- hormones are out of whack, which impairs our immune system.
If your defenses are weak, you’re more likely to get sick when opportunity arises (which occurs with contagious diseases). If you’ve been building a strong defense with a balanced diet, enough sleep and moderate stress, you’ll be able to fight those stressors and infections, including the flu.  Stay healthy! sls

New Year, New You?

Rather than a new you, why not a better version of you? It’s easy to make proclamations of resolution in January but by March, many have been neglected because they’re too drastic.

A lot of people have great intentions for new years resolutions and we support striving to be healthier or kicking bad habits. But true transformations don’t happen overnight. In fact, small changes yield the biggest results. Catch this video from dietitian Elie Krieger on the TODAY show, discussing how small swaps(similar to the ones outlined below) can really get you past your plateau, whatever it may be.
So how can you get started? Short-term goals. Set them, write them down and stay focused on several small changes, not a laundry list of aspirations. 
  • Time parameters: Aim for the next 2 weeks
  • Goal: Increase exercise
  • ‘In the next two weeks, I will walk 30 minutes a day/ 5 days a week’
  • Time parameters: Aim for the next 2 weeks
  • Goal: Increase fruits and vegetables intake
  • ‘In the next two weeks, I will have 2 servings of fruit/vegetables a day’


Another helpful tip is making swaps to your meals and snacks. Rather than a ‘diet makeover’, simple swaps will have you making strides in the healthier direction. Before you know it, you could be craving those fruits and vegetables! Start by swapping corn tortillas for flour. If you must drink soda, cut your intake in half and swap for the diet version. The message isn’t deprivation- it’s alteration. We think you can still enjoy many of the comfort foods you may consider off-limits, if you balance other nutritious choices into your diet. Try these swaps and see how easy reaching your healthy goes can be.
Instead of a Bagel, Reach for an English Muffin
Swap the old bagel and cream cheese routine for a whole-wheat English muffin topped with a tablespoon of peanut butter and banana slices. The flavor is all there, but the refined grains are not. The fat from the peanut butter will leave you full.
Instead of Low-Fat Milk, Reach for Greek Yogurt
We’re big on Greek Yogurt here at Banister and Associates. Instead of low-fat milk over your bowl of granola, try lowfat Greek yogurt.
Instead of Oatmeal Packets, Reach for Plain Oats
Making your own oatmeal could not be simpler. And you’ll be saving yourself the extra sugar that is LOADED into oatmeal packets. Adding your own sprinkle of splenda or stevia is okay for a touch of sweetness, however adding fresh fruit is even better.
Instead of Regular Ranch, Make Your Own
Prepared ranch is loaded with extra ingredients to lengthen shelf life. Try making your own, using plain Greek yogurt and this recipe. It tastes BETTER and you’ll be impressed with the simplicity.
Instead of White Rice, Try Brown Rice or Quinoa
Brown rice is a whole grain and offers a bounty of nutrients that white rice has been robbed of from processing. Once you’re feeling comfortable with the switch, try quinoa. It has a slightly nutty bite and bumps up the whole grain and protein profile of your dish- voila!
Instead of Butter, Try Margarine made with Vegetable Oil
Butter has saturated fat and many margarine brands are still made with trans-fats. However, some companies have created a product to avoid both high amounts of saturated and trans fats. Hooray! Try light margarine spreads made with olive oil for a dose of your heart healthy monounsaturated fats. Smart Balance and Fleishmanns are two examples
Instead of Milk Chocolate, Reach for Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate has half the sugar of milk chocolate and delivers an antioxidant punch. Be sure it’s more than 70% dark. 
Start small with simple swaps. Here’s to a HEALTHIER version of YOU. sls