Food for Thought: Eating to Build Your Brain
It’s 8 AM, Monday morning, you’re running a little bit behind schedule and show up to work a few minutes late. It’s understandable. It happens from time to time, but that’s not even the worst part. You chime in and ask your boss if they needed anything and then it hits. Like a ton of bricks. He just asked you about a task you were given to complete over the weekend. It completely slipped your mind. Now you’re not only showing up late to work, but you’re missing performance markers. Some blame it on age, while others chalk it up to being very busy. The thing is, the brain is tasked with handling a lot more than we give it credit for, which is why it’s important to eat a healthy diet to promote a strong performing brain.
5 Food Types to Enhance Your Brain’s Ability
Certain foods have been researched, studied and tested to see if there were any cognitive benefits. Turns out there are several foods we can eat to boost or improve our brain’s ability to handle the stress life throws our way. While many of these falls into the same categories, we are going to separate them into their own groups according to abundance and variety. Using this method provides us with 5 food types that boost brain functioning. Time to hope right into the good stuff.
The Power of Berries
Berries of all types hold a tremendous amount of nutrients and beneficial health properties. A study published in the American Chemical Society (ACS) suggests strong evidence leans toward the effectiveness of blackberries, blueberries, and strawberries along with other “berry” fruit can help reduce and prevent age-related memory loss. Berries are packed with high levels of antioxidants which are important for combating harmful free radicals that can be associated with mental decline and other diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease.
Free radicals are simply defined as an unstable atom in our system. When you eat antioxidants, you complete the chain that that unstable atom needs to be complete, and if you leave that unstable atom for too long it will keep seeking another atom and cause oxidative stress.
That stress is what damages the cells in our body including those in our brains. Over time that damage can lead to all kinds of cognitive difficulties and will even do a number on your skin. It’s very important to eat foods like berries that are packed with antioxidants in order to preserve prevent that stress.
Looks like berries can help our memory. Would’ve been nice to have remembered that weekend report for work, huh?
The Potency is in Leafy Greens
Brain health is serious and as you age, you start to become the least sharp tool in the shed. Turns out leafy greens like kale, arugula, collards, and spinach can help you keep your brain sharp. Studies show that those who consume at least one cup of raw or a half cup of cooked leafy greens a day experience slow declination in cognitive functioning. Berries help us remember and leafy greens can help stay focused.
Leafy greens are loaded with vitamin K which is a fat-soluble vitamin and it’s essential in helping your blood to clot and build healthy bones. However, Vitamin K has also been linked to helping to prevent Alzheimer’s disease as it helps to regulate the amount of calcium in your brain.
That’s important because scientists found that individuals who were found to have low levels of Vitamin K in their system were much more likely to develop cognitive difficulties and mess up the regulated levels of calcium in their brains which led to more damage done by Alzheimer’s. Ultimately, you’ll want to get more leafy greens in your diet for more Vitamin K and better brain health.
Functioning Fatty Fish
Oily and fatty fish are known to be high in Omega-3 fatty acids, which provide an incredible amount of health benefits. The Omega-3s contain EPA and DPA which have wonderful anti-inflammatory properties. They also help with memory loss and mood swings. That’s right, having sufficient levels of certain nutrients in your diet can actually combat disorders like depression and other things that affect the mood. You may be risking your job, but at least you can keep a cheerful mind with proper brain health.
It can be hard to sort through all of the different types and brands of Omega-3 supplements on the market. If you are looking for an omega-3 supplement, Newtrition, is a great brand that keeps you the consumer in mind. It’s completely backed by science and has been proven to help brain functioning and heart health.
Omega 3 fatty acids are also a key element of brain development in infants and small children, so it’s very important to be sure and get Omega-3 fatty acids if you’re pregnant or planning to become pregnant as children who get enough Omega-3s during pregnancy have been shown to have higher intelligence, better communication skills and fewer behavioral problems.
Another benefit for children is that it can help to reduce symptoms of ADHD in small children. Omega-3s have been shown to help improve the attention spans of small children which will allow them to complete tasks in school and at home.
Diversified Health in Vegetables & Fruits
When it comes to fruits and veggies, there are two that certainly take the cake. Avocados, which are considered a superfood that with blood flow regulation, brain cell activity and can even keep hunger pains from away. Did you know avocados were fruits? Turning to the vegetable side, beets, more specifically beetroots can work wonders on the brain. Beetroot powders, juices, and capsule supplements are available and actually contribute to more than just brain health. Beets can decrease blood pressure which can help with neurovascular disorder by allowing proper blood flow. Beetroot juice has also been known to increase performance in athletes and those who consume it before working out.
Another great fruit for brain health is bananas. They’re very rich in magnesium and potassium which helps to give your body fuel to function better and stay sharp. Bananas also are a big help increasing cognitive function as they help to regulate your mood. They’re one of the best fruits you can consume before exercise to help your muscles increase blood flow. That includes blood flow to the brain.
Also, when you’re in a pinch, try kiwi to help regulate your mood. Kiwis are known to reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s Disease and will help your body to fight off infections as a whole. A healthy body helps you to have a healthy brain!
Super Spices & Others (Chocolate, Water)
Ashwagandha, Ginkgo biloba, and Turmeric are just a few of spices known to improve several areas of the brain. From increasing blood flow to the brain for improved cognitive abilities to containing anti-inflammatory and antioxidant characteristics.
Turns out dark chocolate also works hard to improve your brain’s health. Dark chocolate contains small amounts of caffeine which has been associated with elevated levels or alertness. Dark chocolate also contains magnesium which can aid in de-stressing, but it also works to stimulate the brain to release endorphins and serotonin. These chemicals are key in heightening moods and “feel good” feelings.
Lastly and probably the most important is water. Believe it or not, but being properly hydrated actually promotes healthy brains. Water provides your brain with the energy it needs for all of its functions, including memory and thought processes. It ensures you are thinking faster, focusing more, and have better clarity.
Our bodies are made of nearly 60% water, so it makes sense that water would be a key element in helping our cognitive functions. Water helps our body to transport cells throughout our system. That’ works in tangent with our brain as our cells are constantly needing to be repaired and renewed.
Water is the element that helps our body to transport key nutrients throughout our system and repair those cells. If you want to have a healthier body, then you’ll always need to stay hydrated in order to keep those cognitive functions running at full steam. Doctors recommend drinking eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day in order to keep your system functioning at an optimal rate.
What Having a Healthy Brain Feels Like
When you properly arm your brain with the nutrients it needs to work optimally, you will start to notice improvements. Your mood is much lighter and your stress is way down. Not to mention you are less-prone to sicknesses and can actually improve your abilities to stay focused, remember more and think more clearly. Everything we do takes its toll on our brain. Doesn’t it make sense to give it a fighting chance by eating healthy foods that aid in brain development and health? Show up to work on time and remember to complete your tasks, even with a heavy load by supporting your brain health.
Having better brain health is great for you and for those around you. It will help you to be an active, productive member of your community and help you to lead a more fulfilling life. Not to mention it will help you to stave off diseases like Alzheimer’s which affects up to 5.8 million Americans. Take our advice and try to consume more of these foods so you too can prevent Alzheimer’s and lead a more fulfilling and healthy life.