Nutrition plays a vital role in the overall health and structure of your brain. Following a brain-boosting diet regimen can help support both your long and short term brain function.
The brain requires lots of energy to perform its functions. It uses about 20 of your body’s calories. Thus, you need to provide your brain with good fuel to sustain concentration and focus the entire day.
Following are the top 10 best brain foods that will help your brain repair and build brain cells, and lower cellular inflammation and stress that contribute to prevent neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s disease:
- Oily Fish: These types of fish are rich in omega-3 that helps boost overall brain health and function. Omega-3 fatty acids promote stronger membranes that protect the body’s cells such as the brain cells. The nutrient enhance the neurons, the brain cells’ structure.
People with high omega-3 levels have better blood distribution in the brain. Researchers have established the connection between the levels of omega-3 and improved cognition or thinking ability.
Omega-3 rich oily fish include mackerel, salmon, herring, tuna, and sardines. You can also get your dose of omega-3 from nuts, flax-seed nuts, as well as other seeds.
- Seeds and Nuts: Plant-based seeds and nuts are a generous source of brain-friendly proteins and fats. Increasing your regular consumption of seeds and nuts is beneficial for your brain as they contain antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids.
Studies link higher nut intake to improved brain function in older people. The food group is also rich in vitamin E, an antioxidant that protects cells against oxidative stress triggered by free radicals.
As you age, your brain may get exposed to this type of oxidative stress. Vitamin E will support your brain health as you get older, and lower your risk for Alzheimer’s disease.
Seeds and nuts with high vitamin E content include hazelnuts, almonds, and sunflower seeds. However, more studies are needed to fully explore the effects of vitamin E on the brain.
- Whole Grains: Another way to enjoy the benefits of vitamin E is to consume whole grains. These grains are known to be generous sources of the good vitamin.
Whole grains include barley, brown rice, oatmeal, bulgur wheat, whole grain pasta, and whole grain bread.
- Coffee: Everyone knows that coffee helps in maintaining concentration. A lot of people drink coffee to keep their focus and stay awake. The caffeine content blocks adenosine, a substance in the brain that can make you feel sleepy.
Studies suggest that aside from boosting alertness, caffeine in coffee may likewise increase brain capacity in information processing. Researchers concluded that caffeine triggers a rise in brain entropy, referring to variable and complex brain activity. High entropy levels allow the brain to process more information.
Coffee also has generous amounts of antioxidants that help maintain brain health as you age. Consumption of coffee also helps lower the risk for Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, stroke, and cognitive decline. However, caffeine can affect your sleep; thus, it isn’t ideal for everybody.
- Dark Chocolate: Dark chocolate has cacao, an antioxidant known as flavonoids. Antioxidants are crucial for brain health since the human brain is quite susceptible to oxidative stress that contributes to cognitive decline and brain disorders linked to age.
Flavonoids encourage blood vessel and neuron growth in brain areas involved in learning and memory. They also promote proper blood flow in the brain. Studies support dark chocolate’s brain-boosting effects, and improves brain plasticity that is vital for learning, among other benefits.
- Eggs: A breakfast favorite, eggs are also good for the brain. They provide generous amounts of nutrients like B 6 and 12 vitamins, and folic acid.
According to research, the nutrients in eggs can help slow down cognitive decline, and prevent brain shrinkage.
- Berries: Similar to dark chocolate, many berry varieties have the antioxidant flavonoids, making berries ideal food for the brain. Antioxidants aid in reducing oxidative stress and inflammation. Berries contain antioxidants like caffeic acid, anthocyanin, quercetin, and catechin.
Berries’ antioxidant compounds have many other benefits to the brain. These include:
- Lowering inflammation in the whole body
- Improving brain cell communication
- Increasing plasticity that helps brain cells in forming new connections, and boosting memory and learning
- Delaying or reducing neurodegenerative diseases brought about by aging.
Types of berries rich in brain-boosting antioxidants include strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, mulberries, and blackcurrants.
- Broccoli: Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli have high levels of fiber and other nutrients. Aside from its reputation as a low-calorie dietary fiber source, broccoli is also helpful for the brain.
The veggie is rich in glucosinolates, which when broken down by the body, produce isothiocyanates. Isothiocyanates help reduce the risk for neurodegenerative diseases and lower oxidative stress.
- Kale: Leafy green vegetables like kale promote brain health. Kale, like broccoli, also contains glucosinolates.
Leafy green veggies also have important vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. This is why kale is considered as a superfood.
- Soy Products: Soybean-based products are rich sources of a particular antioxidant group known as polyphenols. Polyphenols are linked to a lower risk of dementia, as well as better cognitive ability as you age.
Soy products have polyphenols known as isoflavones that include genistein and daidzein. These substances serve as antioxidants that offer various health benefits for the entire body.
The brain foods discussed above can help improve your concentration and memory. As a bonus, some even aid in reducing your risk of neurodegenerative diseases linked to aging like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases.
In general, brain foods often provide 1 or a combination of the following nutrients:
- B vitamins
- Beneficial fats
- Antioxidants like vitamin E and flavonoids
- Omega-3 fatty acids
Aside from following the right diet, you can also optimize your brain function through the following:
- Eating a sufficient amount of food
- Keeping well-hydrated at all times
- Getting sufficient sleep
- Exercising on a regular basis
- Reducing intake of alcohol
- Reducing stress
On the other hand, there are also compounds like saturated fats and sugars that can harm the brain cell structures. Thus, these foods should be avoided.