There’s food for the body and then there’s food for the brain. Read on to see what you should be eating right now for protection of your brain cells, improvement of your memory, and lowering your chances of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Certain nutrients found in so-called “brain food” have been shown to positively affect the brain, particularly in areas related to its cognitive processing of emotions and feelings. Proper blood circulation, a reduction in the risk for cardiovascular disorders and neurodegenerative diseases, and maintenance of mental sharpness are just some benefits which a healthy diet can provide.
The brain needs Omega-3 essential fatty acids (EFAs) to promote neuronal growth and enhance neuronal communication. To fuel your body, you need the “right” kind of food to ensure that your brain is fed correctly as well. Not one single food for brain health can give you everything, meaning you have to eat a variety of brain food sources.
The foods listed below are all available in grocery stores and supermarkets. They are also available as stand-alone products when taken as dietary supplements. It is best, however, to consume these foods in their natural and whole forms, as much as possible, and for those that need cooking, for a method to be used which can maintain their vitamins, trace minerals, and nutrients.
Curcumin in Turmeric
Turmeric contains the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory curcumin which inhibits beta amyloids from accumulating in an Alzheimer’s patient’s brain. Curcumin can also break up beta amyloid plaques already in existence. Additionally, it can boost memory as well as stimulate the brain to produce new cells. Between 400 and 600 milligrams of turmeric extracts in capsules or tableys thrice a day may be taken for brain health.
According to Dr. Steven Pratt, blueberries help protect the brain from oxidative stress and reduce the effects of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and other age-related medical conditions, as indicated in animal studies done by researchers. Dr. Ann Kulze recommends at least a serving of a cup of blueberries daily, regardless of whether it is freeze-dried, frozen or fresh.
Twice or thrice a week of four ounces of wild salmon will provide you Omega-3 EFAs. Take note that it should be wild, and not farmed, salmon you should consume. Farmed salmon has been shown to accumulate a considerable amount of toxic materials and other pathogens by ingestion from the places they are farmed in. Wild salmon is “clean” and devoid of any chemical substances because of their free-range environment.
While it may or may not matter significantly what kind of nuts to eat, a serving of 1.5 ounce of whole nuts or its equivalent in two tablespoons of nut butter is ideal. Walnuts, though, are the richest source of Omega-3 EFAs. Nuts of all varieties – including cashews, almonds, Brazil nuts, filberts, and hazelnuts – are good vitamin E sources, alongside peanut and almond butters and tahini.
According to Kulze, author of “Dr. Ann’s 10-Step Diet: A Simple Plan for Permanent Weight Loss and Lifelong Vitality,” you should eat a quarter to half an avocado daily because it:
• Is a rich source for naturally-produced vitamin E which is a potent antioxidant that can prevent cancer.
• Helps the liver to produce glutathione which recycles and refreshes spent antioxidants.
• Creates and maintains myelin from its high content of oleic acid to protect both the brain and the nervous system and keep the mind more alert.
• Can improve blood circulation to and from the brain and maintains healthy and regular blood flow when included in a brain food diet.
• Hypertension is prevented from developing; hypertension, or high blood pressure, increases the risk for cognitive abilities to decline.
This vegetable is a rich source of luteolin, the compound that can help calm inflammation in the brain, a condition shown to be the major cause of neurodegenration. Four celery stalks a day are considered safe for consumption to obtain luteolin and lower the risks of memory loss. Four stalks daily can also reduce fluid retention because of the sodium in celery.
A single crab serving can provide you with the entire day’s requirement of the amino acid phenylalanine that helps produce the brain stimulants known as adrenaline and noradrenaline and the neurotransmitter called dopamine. The phenylalanine in crabs can also help combat Parkinson’s disease. Additionally, crabs are excellent sources of vitamin B12 which is known to boost the brain’s development, growth, and function.
The trace mineral magnesium helps the brain’s cell receptors to accelerate the speed at which message transmissions travel, relaxes blood vessels, and enables better blood circulation to improve blood flood to and from the brain. Garbanzo beans (or chickpeas) are of the best magnesium sources in the world. A cup of garbanzo beans gives you 220 milligrams of magnesium and its benefits throughout the day. They are also a brilliant source of fibre and provide many other health benefits.
A serving of buckwheat in a cup provides you the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) 25% of tryptophan as well as 229 milligrams of magnesium, albeit this amount can drop depending on how the buckwheat is cooked. Tryptophan is essential to produce serotonin, which, when insufficient, can increase aggression, impact mood, and impair memory. Buckwheat is also high in fiber content and is gluten-free.
Aside from being a rich source of antioxidants, broccoli also has choline, the micronutrient that can “super charge” brain activity of the fetus during pregnancy. Choline helps in improving memory and learning, boosting cognitive function, and diminishing age-related decline in memory and protecting the brain against vulnerability to toxin exposure during childhood. One cup of broccoli has 229 milligrams of choline.
Technically not food because it is drunk, red wine contains resveratrol which, according to a study conducted by Johns Hopkins University, can help protect the brain while a stroke is occurring by elevating certain enzyme levels. Resveratrol in red wine can also decrease the body’s inflammatory responses. Two glasses of red wine should be sufficient for you to get all its benefits.
Foods that Can Diminish Cognitive Abilities and Function
Not all that you think of as the best food for your brain may even actually be that. Several studies have shown that the foods you may be eating daily – and some that you always believed were traditionally healthy – could slow down the functions of your brain gradually well into your future. Take a look at this list to find out which foods these are (and avoid or eliminate them from your diet)”
Wild salmon, yes, but tuna? University of South Florida researchers have found that tuna contains mercury in levels that exceeded those set by the Environmental Protection Agency as safe. Pregnant and breastfeeding women are especially at risk of excessive mercury from eating tuna. Safest picks include, as mentioned, wild salmon, white fish, and sardines.
Potato Chips and Cookies
People who eat potato chips and cookies frequently – more than three times a week – are likely to make more cognitive errors such as lapses in attention, focus, and concentration. The high fat content in these foods zap alertness, make the brain go sluggish, and cause mental fatigue. Not to mention increasing blood pressure levels from excess sodium intake and spiking blood sugar levels from excess refined sugar.
Egg White Omelet
Skipping out on egg yolks makes you miss choline which, as mentioned previously, is crucial in brain development. Those who opt for omelets made only from egg whites will do poorly on visual memory and verbal tests and may suffer a decline in cognitive function and ability later on in life according to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Popcorn cooked the traditional way is better than the microwaveable kind because of the large amount of trans fat the latter contains. Trans fat not only hurts your cardiovascular system, it can also harm your brain. A 2011 neurological study found that adults who were continuously on high trans fat diets had their cognitive abilities decreased later in their lives; their brains also became smaller in size.
This sweetener contains a lot of fructose which could diminish the brain’s function significantly. A study on rats conducted by the University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA) revealed the rodents fed on fructose-supplemented diets navigated a previously-learned maze more sluggishly and displayed a decrease in memory skills. This was likely caused by disturbances in the brain cell’s signalling function.
There is a plethora of brain food that can help us become smarter but there is also a ton of food that we ingest every single day that have devastating effects on our brain’s cognitive abilities and function. The best way to deal with this is to be well-informed on what foods – or drinks – can increase your brain’s productivity, not decrease it.
Another element to remember is when you eat, keeping your brain topped up with fuel is important. Many people leave too long between food or skip meals, this will affect your brain function too.