Healthy and specific foods play an important role for your brain health. We live in the times in which people rely heavily on processed foods which leads to overweight in most cases and other health conditions.
“Research reveals that obesity is a global phenomenon, with around 38% of adults and 18% of children and adolescents worldwide, classified as either obese or overweight”
There’s a saying that you are what you eat. Over eating and eating less can result in serious health conditions such as cognitive and moods dysfunction says study.
It is said that the brain needs significant amount of energy to function efficiently. Processed foods are not ideal if we are to maintain the brain health.
Healthy foods that normaly contain essential nutrients, flavonoids and/or antioxidants as well as omega 3 fatty acid have potential benefits to your brain and overall health. These kinds of benefits are mostly obtained from plant based foods.
Experts always suggest that we increase our fruits and vegetables intake as they contain essential nutrients and phytochemicals with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. These compounds boost the brain and overal health.
The antioxidants are known to fight off free radicals which cause oxidative stress and inflammation of cells. Oxidative stress is associated with neurodegenerative disorders and age related cognitive decline.
Study says that “India has reduced the prevalence of neurological disorders that has been associated with diet such as “Alzheimer’s disease”
Let’s find out in more details what type of foods boost cognition function.
The best foods to supercharge your brain
Here are some of the healthy foods for your brain to improve memory and concentration.
- Oily fish
- Chia seeds
- Sunflower seeds
The benefits of omega 3 fatty acids and brain
Omega 3 fatty acids are healthy fats found in some plant based foods and fatty fish. They are found to be beneficial to heart and brain health and they help build and repair brain cells. While the body can synthesize Omega 3 fatty acids, these fats cannot sufficiently supply the body. We can get dietary omega 3 fatty acids from certain food sources.
According to study the lower levels of Omega 3 Fatty acids can affect cognition in humans and contribute to mental disorders such as : dementia, depression, dyslexia, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia.
Some of the food sources high in omega 3 fatty acids include:
- Oily fish( Tuna, sardines, Trout, Herring)
- Flaxseed (ground)
- Oils ( Canola oil, flaxseed, soybean)
- Butternut squash
- Chia seeds
The benefits of antioxidants and brain
Healthy foods play an important role in your brain health. Antioxidants are thought to slow down brain aging and fend off heart diseases by fighting against free radicals that damage cell membranes and other parts of the cells.
According to study oxidative stress and inflammation are linked to age related cognitive decline and other health conditions.
Study shows that eating fruits and vegetables high in polyphenols can prevent and even reverse age related cognitive decline by lowering oxidative stress and inflammation.
Foods rich in antioxidants include:
- Blueberries: Blueberries are packed with anthocyanins, chemical compound with antioxidant properties. Blueberries are said to have the ability to protect against age related cognitive impairment.
Berries and other dark coloured fruits are said to have beneficial effects to protecting aging brain against oxidative stress and inflammation, says study.
When we increase the consumption of fruits and vegetables we are likely to reduce the risk of neurodegenerative disorders associated with brain aging.
- Strawberries : are said to have the same effect to the aging brain. Strawberries contain antioxidants which reduce cell oxidation and inflammation that can be detrimental to the brain health.
- Sunflower seeds: are among the plant based foods rich in vitamin E and nutrients as well as healthy fats. Vitamin E is a fat soluble vitamin with antioxidants effects. Antioxidants prevent cell oxidation and damage by free radicals. Oxidative stress is associated with neurodegenerative disorders.
- Almonds: by the same token, almonds are rich in vitamin E, other nutrients and healthy fats. Due to its antioxidant effects vitamin E has been tested in clinical trials for its capacity to prevent or delay cognitive decline, however, further research is still required.
- Hazel nuts: also rich in vitamin E, healthy fats and other nutrients such as vitamin B, calcium and magnesium.
- Spinach: Like other leafy greens, spinach is rich in vitamin E, C as well as plant compounds, and boosts brain health.
Both vitamin E and C present in spinach, act as an antioxidants known to protect against oxidative stress and aid immunIty. It is also high in vitamin A, folate and other nutrients.
Eggs are good source of vitamin B 6, 9,and 12 which play an important role in the brain health. It helps to diversify our diets as nutrients can be obtained in various food sources for an optimal health.
According to study vitamin B 9 aka folate and/or folic acid contribute to brain function. Folate deficiency can lead to neurological disorders such as depression and cognitive decline.
“Vitamin E, 6, 9 and 12 are said to have the capacity to break down, a naturally occurring potentially neurotoxic amino acid – homocysteine – thus preventing its build up and reducing its toxicity. However it’s not clear to date whether homocysteine is a causal factor in cognitive decline and dementia or merely a coincidental phenomenon related to less than optimal intake of these vitamins”
Coffee: is not bad news after all. According to study coffee boosts brain health and keeps you alert and improves concentration. It also boosts mood and keep depression at bay. Of course drinking it just before bed time will affect your sleep. The maximum intake of coffee is 400 mg per day which makes around 5 cups per day.
The benefits of exercise and brain
Incorporating exercise as part of healthy living is key to sustaining a healthy brain and heart and to keep some health conditions such as heart disease and obesity among others, at bay.
“The benefits of exercise come directly from its ability to reduce insulin resistance, reduce inflammation and stimulate the release of growth factors- chemicals in the brain that affect the health of the brain cells, growth of new blood vessels in the brain even the abundance and survival of new brain cells” according to Heidi Godman, the executive Editor from Harvard medical school.
Regular exercise has been proven to have many health benefits by various studies.
“It has been noted that exercise promotes the production of neurotrophins, leading to a greater brain plasticity and therefore better memory and learning.
In addition to neurotrophins exercise result in an increase in neurotransmitters in the brain, especially serotonin and norepinephrine which boost information processing and mood” says Myles Charvat, Ph,D.
Study indicates that physical exercise enhances cognitive functions in youth and adults, improving memory abilities, efficiency of processes and executive control processes.
It further states that physical activity prevents cognitive decline linked to aging, reduces the risks of developing dementia, the level of deterioration in the executive function and improves quality of life.
It is estimated that by 2020 depression will be the second leading cause of disease and the study has observed that individuals regularly engaged in physical exercise are less depressed or anxious compared to those who do not exercise.
Physical exercise protect the brain from adverse effects of aging and has been linked with the decreased risk of age related cognitive deficit and neurodegeneration, says study.
Healthy and specific foods play an important role in protecting brain from adverse effects of aging and maintains the overall health. Diversifying our diets provide our bodies and minds with the necessary nutrients needed and protect our health from deteriorating.
Among other factors, exercise contributes to keeping our cognitive function intact.
As aforementioned, omega 3 fatty acids along with antioxidants are key compounds in the brain and heart health.
Lower levels of omega 3 fatty acids may lead to serious complications of mental disorders including: depression, dementia, schizophrenia and the like.
Plant derived foods are rich in flavonoids and other phytochemicals with antioxidant properties.
It is therefore recommended by experts that we eat plenty of vegetables and fruits regularly and diversify our diets for optimal health.
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