Paying attention to your diet can truly pay off, whether you want to optimize your nutrition during exam season or stay bright in your next business meeting. Although there is no specific 'brain food' that will prevent you from age-related illnesses like Alzheimer's or dementia, thinking about what you eat can help you acquire the nutrients you need for cognitive health and mood.
Eating a healthy, balanced diet that includes these 10 common brain-boosting foods may help you maintain your sharpest memory, concentration, and focus.
1. Wholegrains - May improve concentration and focus
The brain, like everything else in your body, requires energy to function. The ability to concentrate and focus is dependent on a constant supply of energy (in the form of glucose) to the brain in our blood. Choose wholegrains with a low GI, which means they release energy slowly into the bloodstream and help you stay intellectually aware throughout the day. Too few healthy carbs, such as wholegrains, can cause irritability and mental fog. Brown wholegrain cereals, granary bread, rice, and pasta are all good choices.
2. Oily fish - May promote healthy brain function
Because essential fatty acids (EFAs) are not produced by the body, they must be received through meals. The most effective omega-3 fats, EPA and DHA, are found naturally in oily fish. Flaxseed, soya beans, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, and their oils are all good plant sources. These fats are essential for brain function, heart health, joint health, and overall wellness. Although research is still in its early stages, there is some evidence that eating enough omega-3 fats in your diet can help you feel better.
What makes oily fish so beneficial is that it contains these active fats in a ready-to-use form, allowing the body to utilize them quickly. Salmon, trout, mackerel, herring, sardines, pilchards, and kippers are all good sources of oily seafood.
Low DHA levels have been related to an increased risk of dementia, Alzheimer's disease, and memory loss, whereas adequate amounts of both EPA and DHA are thought to aid stress management and the production of serotonin, a happy brain chemical.
If you're a vegetarian or vegan, consider include flaxseed, hemp, or chia seeds in your diet, or opt for a plant-based omega-3 supplement made from micro-algae. If you're thinking about taking a supplement, talk to your doctor first. Because omega-3 fats play such a crucial part in the development of your baby's central nervous system, vegetarian or vegan mothers-to-be, as well as those who are breastfeeding, should consider taking a supplement.
3. Blueberries - May boost short-term memory
Evidence gathered at Tufts University in the United States suggests that blueberry eating can help to improve or delay short-term memory loss. They're readily available, but you can get the similar effect with other dark red and purple fruits and vegetables, such as blackberries and red cabbage. Anthocyanins, which are protective chemicals, are present in both.
4. Tomatoes - May prevent free radical damage
There is strong evidence that lycopene, a powerful antioxidant present in tomatoes, may help protect cells from the type of free radical damage that happens in dementia, particularly Alzheimer's disease. To improve your body's absorption and utilization, eat cooked tomatoes with a little olive oil. Papaya, watermelon, and pink grapefruit are examples of foods that contain this and comparable defensive phytonutrients.
5. Eggs - May delay brain shrinkage
Certain B vitamins, such as B6, B12, and folic acid, are known to lower homocysteine levels in the blood. Homocysteine levels beyond a certain threshold are linked to an increased risk of stroke, cognitive impairment, and Alzheimer's disease. After two years of medication with high doses of B6, B12, and folic acid, a group of older patients with mild cognitive impairment showed considerably less brain shrinkage than a subset given placebo treatment.
Other B vitamins, such as B1, B3, and choline, are vital in maintaining appropriate brain function. Choline, which is abundant in egg yolks, is required for the production of acetylcholine, a memory-enhancing brain neurotransmitter.
Choose foods high in B vitamins, such as eggs, chicken, fish, leafy greens, and dairy. If you're a vegan, seek for vitamin B12 in fortified foods like plant milks and morning cereals, or take a supplement. Nutritional yeast, avocado, soya, almonds, and seeds are all good vegan sources of B vitamins, including B6.
6. Blackcurrants - May reduce anxiety and stress
Vitamin C has long been regarded to improve mental agility, and some research suggests that a shortage could be a risk factor for age-related brain deterioration, such as dementia and Alzheimer's disease. In addition, recent research suggests that vitamin C may be beneficial in the treatment of anxiety
and stress. Blackcurrants are one of the best providers of this important vitamin. Red peppers, citrus fruits like oranges, and broccoli are among the others.
7. Pumpkin seeds - May enhance memory and boost mood
Pumpkin seeds are higher in zinc than many other seeds, making them a good source of this important mineral for memory and thinking. They're also high in magnesium, B vitamins, and tryptophan, which is the precursor to the happy neurotransmitter serotonin. Beef, oysters, chickpeas, and nuts like cashews and almonds are all good sources of protein.
8. Broccoli - May improve brainpower
Broccoli is high in vitamin K, which has been shown to promote cognitive function and brainpower. Broccoli's high glucosinolate content has been shown to inhibit the breakdown of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which is required for the central nervous system to function properly and keep our minds and memories fresh. Alzheimer's disease is linked to low levels of acetylcholine. Cauliflower, kale, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts are other cruciferous vegetables high in glucosinolates, whereas liver, hard cheeses, and prunes are good sources of vitamin K.
9. Sage - May boost memory and concentration
Sage has a long history of being used to improve memory and attention. Although most studies focus on sage as an essential oil, fresh sage may be beneficial to your diet as well. To protect the beneficial oils, add at the conclusion of the cooking process.
Butternut soup with crispy sage, pearl barley & sage risotto, and veal escalopes wrapped in proscuitto, sage, and lemon are just a few of the healthful recipes that include sage.
10. Nuts - May help protect healthy brain function
According to a study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, adequate vitamin E intake may aid to avoid cognitive deterioration, especially in the elderly. Leafy green vegetables, asparagus, olives, seeds, eggs, brown rice, and wholegrains are all good sources of vitamin E.
Don't forget that exercise, in addition to a balanced diet, helps to keep our minds fresh. Regular exercise, according to research, improves cognitive function, slows the aging process of the mind, and helps us process information more effectively.