Your brain is one of your body’s most important organs. When it’s healthy, you can function at your best and be optimally productive. But when it’s not in the best of shape, you’ll be less productive and less effective at work and life in general. Keeping your brain healthy must be of utmost importance.
Health professionals suggest using your brain regularly to keep it sharp. Constantly doing new things or activities enhances your brain’s plasticity and reduces the chances of mental decline.
Another way to keep your brain in optimal health is to feed it with the right food. Your brain needs a lot of energy for maximum performance. Eating the right food helps you provide your brain’s energy and nutritional needs. Include in your diet the following foods to boost your brain’s function:
Chocolates, particularly the dark ones, are brain-friendly foods. The cacao content in dark chocolates contain flavonoids, an antioxidant which fosters the growth of new neurons and blood vessels in the brain. The brain is constantly bombarded by oxidative stress that is likely to lead to cognitive decline and brain diseases.
With the presence of flavonoids, you reduce your chances of having a weakened memory that is often associated with age. Eating dark chocolates also help increase your brain’s plasticity, which is essential in learning processes.
2. Nuts and seeds
Nuts and seeds such as walnuts, Brazil nuts, cashews, chestnuts, hazelnuts, pine nuts, almonds, macadamia, pecans, and pistachios are rich in antioxidants and omega 3 fatty acids that are crucial in the brain’s function.
Numerous studies show that people who consume nuts have greater cognitive functions compared to those who eat fewer nuts. Eating nuts regularly has been found to strengthen brainwave frequencies associated with cognition, healing, memory, learning, and other key functions of the brain. Additionally, nut consumption has also been found to reduce the risk of depression because of the tryptophan in nuts, which is a precursor of serotonin levels in the brain.
3. Whole grains
Whole grains act as the brain’s protector against Alzheimer’s disease. The vitamin E in whole grains helps protect the nerve cell membrane by acting as an antioxidant to protect the brain from oxidative stress. The best whole grains include brown rice, barley, oatmeal, and bulgur wheat.
Oysters are excellent sources of zinc. Zinc is a component of enzymes and a structural component of many proteins, hormones, hormone receptors, and molecules that are essential for brain cell communication.
5. Oily fish
Fish rich in omega 3 fatty acids not only helps brain tissues but also keeps the eye’s retina healthy. Omega 3s help regulate brain cells and improve neuron structures. They also help increase blood flow in the brain and better cognition. Scientists recommend eating oily fish to keep brain health and boost brain function. Salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring, and sardines are the best sources of omega 3s. Even if you can’t get them fresh from the market, the canned products contain the same nutrients.
Though it’s a “nut”, peanuts aren’t classified as nuts. These oily seeds that are protected by a hard shell are members of the legume family. Peanuts are rich in unsaturated fats and protein that keep a person’s energy levels at par. They’re also considered as brain-boosting foods because of their vitamin E and resveratrol contents. Resveratrol is an antioxidant that helps protect the body against cancer, inflammation, and neurological problems. Elderly people are advised to eat foods containing resveratrol to reduce their risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.
Egg is another brain-boosting food that provides the body not only zinc but also B vitamins such as B6, B12, and folic acids. According to research, B vitamins help the brain prevent shrinkage and delay cognitive decline. B group vitamins are also essential components for the production of neurotransmitters and cell structure.
Avocado is a superfood that contains most of the ingredients necessary for overall health. As a brain food, it contains monounsaturated fats that help reduce the risk of high blood pressure, which is linked to cognitive decline. Monounsaturated fats also help regulate blood flow.
Berries are rich in antioxidants, including anthocyanin, caffeic acid, quercetin, and catechin, that help reduce inflammation and protect against oxidative stress. Other health benefits of the antioxidants in berries include increasing brain plasticity, delaying age-related neurodegenerative diseases and delaying cognitive decline. The best brain-boosting berries are blackberries, mulberries, strawberries, and blueberries.
Broccoli is a member of the cruciferous vegetable family, which is considered to be a superfood because of its cancer and disease-fighting properties. As a brain food, broccoli contains glucosinolates, which when broken down by the body produce isothiocyanates that protect the brain against oxidative stress and lower the risk of brain diseases. Another important component of broccoli is vitamin C, which is the brain’s essential source of energy. Vitamin C is crucial in cognitive function because it helps in the differentiation and maturation of neurons and in the formation of the myelin sheath that protects them.
Tomato is a great source of lycopene, a powerful antioxidant that helps prevent free radical damage to the cells. Free radical damage or oxidative damage can speed up aging and lead to diseases. Lycopene also helps prevent dementia, making tomato a brain-boosting food. But tomato does more than keeping the brain healthy. It also helps keep the nails and skin healthy because of its vitamin C content.
Coffee is a popular drink for its ability to increase your energy levels, especially when you want to wake up your senses in the morning. Coffee enhances alertness and the brain’s capacity to process information. Research has found that coffee can increase brain entropy (BEN), which measures the complexity and irregularity of brain activity. The higher the entropy, the higher the brain’s capacity to process information. Entropy is also linked with intelligence. Aside from this, coffee is also full of antioxidants that help the brain guard against oxidative damage and degenerative diseases such as stroke, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.