Food and health

Healthy Foods For Your Brain

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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.

  1. Oily fish
  2. Flaxseeds
  3. Walnuts
  4. Butternut
  5. Chia seeds
  6. Blueberries
  7. Strawberries
  8. Sunflower seeds
  9. Almonds
  10. Eggs
  11. Coffee
  12. Avocado

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)
  • Walnuts
  • 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.

Final thoughts

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.

Sources : regular-exercise-changes-brain-improve-memory-thinking-skills201404097110

I hope that you’ve enjoyed reading this article. If you find it useful kindly leave your comment or opinion at the comment section below.

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  1. Great article, Maggie. I was so glad to see “coffee” included in this list! Well-structured information, great photo illustrations. Keep up the great work! – Kimberly

  2. Super website, you know your stuff. I have had heart disease since my late 30s and am 60 now. I have heard a lot of this before so I know quite a bit about it already. You have done a wonderful job of explaining everything. Keep it up and you will go far with this site.

  3. Hi Maggie,

    Thank you for such an informative article – you have no idea how happy I was to see avocados way down the list! I love them, but I’m allergic and they’re always at the top of healthy food lists. You’ve also just justified my morning coffee.

    Any tips on getting more of these foods into my day easily?

    Thanks again!

    1. Hi Lisa

      It’s good to hear that you love avocados. They are also packed with healthy fats. A better way of consuming your favourite fruits and vegetable is usually when you blend or juice them. That way you’ll have them in single drink especially in the mornings. Also diversify and add variety of vegetables to your meals and opt for a fruit or nuts for a snack in between the meals instead of junk foods. Thanks for finding this article useful.

  4. Hi Maggie, Thank you for this detailed post. I didn’t realize that 38% of adults are considered obese. Those are worrying statistics that shout the message, “we need to take care of our diet because that will help take care of our health” I’ve heard people say so many times, “I need to go on a diet”. What we really need is to take care of what we eat and get plenty of exercise. No need for the latest diet with expensive drinks and meals that can only be bought from one place. Nature provides everything we need and posts like this help us know what to look for. Thank you, you’re doing a great job.

    1. Hey Steve

      You are spot on. “Taking care of our diets will help take care of our health” “I want to go on a diet” These type of diets sometimes deprive us of the nutrients our bodies need. Thank you so much for taking the time to read this article and for your input as well.

      Have a blissful day


  5. Hey Maggie,

    Another great article. Living a healthy life became a trend these days instead of becoming the norm! Any physician wishes to see more people living healthy and eating healthy. What people avoid to admit is that so many diseases we suffer from are due to our lifestyle and eating habits.

    This article stated what we are missing in our life nowadays. Eating (Fresh) fruits and nuts (especially walnuts) should be our sweets every day instead of all these candies we give our kids. Sadly, more and more people report to hospitals with different conditions related to vitamin deficiencies as well as other nutritions we are missing because of our bad diet. Also, recent studies, even though they are not proved yet, connect our lack of the immune system to our diet as one of the significant reasons.

    All these foods you mentioned from Oily fish, flaxseeds to blueberries, and others are so important for the brain and other organs as well. What I want to say now is that coffee is a fantastic drink with some benefits. However, people drink too much and use it in the wrong way, which may cause problems instead of being good!

    Thank you for this article, it can take hours to talk about every detail in it as it is so important for everyone.

    Dr. Alkhawaldeh

    1. Hi Dr Alkhawalden

      Thank you so much for your valued opinion. I agree with you, even some studies show that applying Nutrition as a strategy could go a long way to preventing and even reducing some of the health issues we are faced with today. You are also right about coffee,Just like every good thing if abused it can become detrimental to our health.According to study the daily recommended intake for coffee is 400 mg. Thank you for reading the post and for your input as well.

      Have a wonderful day


  6. Hi Maggie,

    Wonderful article and content! I love this topic and you offered some new and excellent insights. Since coffee is something that caught everyone’s attention, I might suggest that you convert how many # of cups = 400 mgs so people can understand the recommended volume. Also, I may have older eyes but having trouble the the size and lightness of your font. Perhaps darkening and enlarging it slightly would help with some bolder subtitles. The design, photos and layout are so fresh and appealing. Great work!! Best wishes, Lucia

    1. Hi Lucia

      Thank you for reading the article and for your input. 400 mg of coffee per day is around 5 cups a day. I’m sorry that I omitted this piece and yet useful information. I’ll see what I can do about the light and/or brightness. About the font size did you try to zoom it in to enlarge the size? Otherwise I’ll see what I can do.

      Enjoy the rest of the day.


  7. Well done Maggie, this was a great read! In my quest to live a healthier lifestyle, there is so much information available to try and digest. But you laid out your information in an easy to understand manner. I, like others, am glad to hear that coffee is considered ‘ok’, as I definitely drink lower than 400 mg a day. Thank you for sharing your knowledge!

  8. I found this article very interesting as I’m a great believer in healthy eating. As a pesco-vegetarian, much of my diet is plant based, and love butternut squash, salmon, and blueberries. I also love coffee which I’m happy to see is healthy! I cook most of my meals from scratch, following recipes, and totally agree that too many people rely on processed foods. Having suffered a stroke 5 years ago I’m very mindul of exercise, and walk several miles most days. It certainly helped boost neuroplasticity, and I’m almost fully recovered!

    1. Hey Kathy

      Thank you for taking the time to read this article and for your input. It’s good to learn that you take healthy living to heart. Keep it up.


  9. Thanks for the great information n healthy foods. I am having a snack of raw almonds now, it is one of my favorites. My exercise program has been stopped for a while, I hurt my leg and cannot work out.
    Is there a food that can help with a pulled muscle, I am almost ready to start my program again at a much lighter level to keep another injury from occurring.

    1. Hi John

      Thank you for stopping by and for reading this article. I’ll say follow your doctor’s recommendation. Eat a balanced diet from whole foods as experts would normally say. A healthy balanced diet usually contain your vitamins,minerals,protein and good fats. Almonds have a reasonable amount of protein and contain healthy fats too. Fruits (orange, berries etc) and dark leafy greens ( broccoli, spinach, kale) contain vitamin C which help to rebuild tissues after injury. Omega 3 fatty acids from your fish, walnuts,flaxseeds and have anti-inflamatory properties- inflammation slows recovery from sprained ligaments etc. Calcium and vitamin D are also important for your bone and muscle health. Otherwise a healthy balanced diet will provide all the nutrients your body need for recovery and optimal health. I wish you a speedy recovery


  10. Hi Maggie. Thank you for your sharing all these information which help me to have a better understand what food should go for and what’s benefits. And I also won’t feel bad any more of drinking coffee since it is one of the item that is good for the brain..:-)

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