We all need a little help with focus, now and then. Some of us need help seemingly daily. But did you know that the food you eat could be affecting your cognitive abilities? Your diet can have beneficial or detrimental effects on the way your brain works. Today’s article is all about boosting cognition with the best brain foods. We will be covering:
- Foods to eat for better cognitive performance
- Foods to avoid
- Other activities for improved brain function
- Nootropic supplements that could also help
The Relationship Between Your Brain and The Food You Eat
Your brain never stops. It’s working all day and it’s still going while you sleep. It’s very much like your heart in that sense but unlike the heart, it has a much more complex role. Just like every organ in your body, the brain needs nutrition. Some foods are better at providing that nutrition than others. And some foods are bad for your brain.
Diets that are high in refined sugars have been proven to hinder cognitive performance. Furthermore, foods that provide your gut with good bacteria are beneficial to the brain since the neurotransmitter, which regulates sleep, mood pain management, and even food cravings, serotonin, is produced in the gut. You see, the foods you eat affect your brain in more ways than one.
Getting a good cardio exercise is also very beneficial for the brain. Cardio exercises increase the amount of oxygen that is sent to the brain, which helps elevate processing speed and mental acuity. Studies suggest that regular cardio and aerobic exercises can prevent cognitive issues like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
We’ve talked about how eating the right foods affects the brain and what foods to avoid for better mental performance. But what are the best brain foods you should consume?
- Fatty Fish – Fatty fish is one of the healthiest foods for your brain. Oily fish contains a high level of omega-3 fatty acids. These substances have been proven to shield cells in the body, including brain cells. Fish like salmon, mackerel, and tuna can protect your brain cells and in turn, protect your precious cognitive abilities.
- Berries – Some berries are high in anthocyanins, which are highly potent antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents. Dark-colored fruits such as blueberries are the most beneficial to your brain as they contain the highest levels of anthocyanins.
Anthocyanins have been shown to protect the brain cells from oxidative damage – one of the most common causes of serious cognitive diseases.
- Dietary Supplements – Sometimes, it may be unfeasible to incorporate into your diet all the foods that can benefit your brain. And while there are certainly some nootropic supplements on the market that don’t provide any benefit, there are some that do. Youthful Brain has worked for some people. Try reading a Youthful Brain review to see if it is a good supplemental product for your needs.
- Pumpkin Seeds – Pumpkin seeds are brain food for the simple fact that they are rich in the essential trace mineral Zinc. Zinc plays many roles in the brain. It provides neuroprotection for the brain cells.
Zinc deficiency has also been observed in patients with Alzheimer’s and other serious cognitive issues. This mineral is also essential to the central nervous system. It binds with proteins in the central nervous system and is present in free-form. It has been observed that healthy zinc levels can protect from neurodegenerative diseases.
- Dark Chocolates – Don’t go crazy with this one. Remember that only naturally dark chocolates are beneficial to the brain. But they are beneficial because they have high levels of flavonoids, which are an especially potent form of antioxidant. Antioxidants protect brain cells (especially as you age) and help them function properly. If you do choose to incorporate more dark chocolate into your diet for brain health purposes, be sure to consume chocolates that are at least 70% cacao.
- Turmeric – Turmeric has a couple of interesting benefits for the brain. For one thing, it may be able to help patients with Alzheimer’s or help prevent it. Amyloid plaques are common in the brain of people with Alzheimer’s. Studies have shown that turmeric helps clear these plaques. Turmeric may also boost serotonin and dopamine levels, which can improve sleep and elevate mood. Turmeric may even help battle and prevent depression.
- Nuts and Whole Grains – Nuts and whole grains like barley, oatmeal, and brown rice are beneficial for the brain for the same very important reason – they provide plenty of vitamin E.
Vitamin E is very effective at providing defense against oxidative stress and degradation for brain cells. There may be some immediate benefits to consuming foods with vitamin E as some studies have suggested that this vitamin may improve cognitive ability. Furthermore, eating foods rich in vitamin E may help prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.
Taking care of your brain is important. It’s easy to see that it’s practically a full-time job. You can eat right, exercise, and avoid excessive alcohol intake to protect your cognitive functions now, and as you age.
Some supplements may make the job easier. Just remember that even the best memory pills aren’t likely enough to protect your brain on their own. While they can make enhancing your cognitive abilities a bit easier, you should still be eating good brain foods, getting plenty of exercise, and avoiding foods and habits that are bad for your brain. It may be difficult, but what can be more important than a healthy brain?