Essential Foods for Improving Your Brain Health
Some of the essential foods for improving your brain health include essential fatty acids, whole grains, foods that contain antioxidants and vitamins, and tea. Unfortunately, your brain ages just as the rest of your body does, which results in memory loss, lack of concentration, dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease. The good news is that certain foods can help keep your brain healthy and sharp.
Some people refer to brain food as super food or smart food. The nutrients that keep the brain functioning at an optimal level are diverse and come from a variety of foods. It is also important to keep a regular eating schedule in order to keep your blood sugar levels consistent, which affects the brain as well.
Maintain a Schedule
Although the type of food you eat is important for brain health, when you eat the food is very important as well. Many people skip breakfast in the morning. Some skip it due to time constraints while others think that by skipping a meal they will lose weight. Not only does eating breakfast keep you thinner, but it also is imperative for maintaining a healthy brain.
The American Diabetes Association reports that people who eat breakfast have increased mental clarity, solve problems better, and are more productive throughout their day. The good news is that there are many different types of breakfast foods that are specifically beneficial for the brain, including eggs, fruit, and whole grains. It doesn’t even have to be a typical breakfast item―it can be any type of food that is healthy and full of protein.
Your brain also functions better when you eat more frequently during the day. It is better to eat smaller meals every three to four hours than a big one every five to six hours. Eating healthier more frequently keeps your blood sugar stable and keeps you alert and able to concentrate.
Essential Fatty Acids
According to the Franklin Institute, what you eat affects the chemicals in your brain that influence your behavior and mood, and essential fatty acids play a big part in this. Fatty acids are vital in building brain cells. Essential fatty acids are those that are not manufactured in your body and must come from food sources.
There are two types of essential fatty acids. There are omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids and both help to boost intelligence. An imbalance of these has also been shown to be linked with mental disorders such as brain allergies, depression, hyperactivity, and schizophrenia.
Food sources of omega-3 include fish like trout, mackerel, sardines, and salmon; walnuts; sea vegetables; chia seeds; and flax seeds. Sources of the fatty acid omega-6 include cold-pressed sesame, corn, safflower, and sunflower oils. You should focus on including these fatty acids into your daily diet.
Although carbohydrates have gotten a bad rap in the past, your brain needs them to function. In fact, the Mayo Clinic reports that carbohydrates, especially whole grains, increase the levels of serotonin in the brain, which helps increase good moods.
You want to stay away from simple carbohydrates, such as sugary foods and white flour products. Stick to the complex ones such as brown rice, whole-grain flour items, and oatmeal. These will help with cognitive function and reduce inflammation and oxidative damage.
Antioxidants and Vitamins
Eating foods rich in vitamins and antioxidants is important for optimal brain health. B vitamins, particularly B12, B6, and folic acid, are especially vital. They help create the blood cells that bring oxygen to the brain and they break down toxins that destroy nerve cells in the brain.
The best way to get B vitamins into your body is from food. Great sources are kale, spinach, and other leafy, dark green vegetables. You can also get B vitamins from melons, broccoli, asparagus, strawberries, citrus fruits, soybeans, and black beans.
Antioxidants also help improve the flow of blood to the brain. They help fight oxidation, which is caused by free radicals. Brains lose their normal antioxidant defense methods as they age, as stated by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, so it is important to supplement your diet with antioxidants to help balance things out.
Vitamin E has long been recommended as an important antioxidant, as has vitamin C. Beta-carotene and selenium are also good antioxidants. Food sources include seeds and nuts, blueberries and other deep-colored berries, pomegranates, apples, cherries, citrus fruits, raisins, dark green vegetables, tomatoes, and artichokes.
Other foods that have high antioxidant properties include kidney beans, black beans, liver, sweet potatoes, the blue-green algae spirulina, green tea, and coffee. Even quality dark chocolate, in small quantities, has been shown to have antioxidant properties.
Drinking tea, and even coffee, helps the brain due to its antioxidant effects. However, it is also beneficial because it contains caffeine. High doses of caffeine are not recommended, but modest amounts are. It can improve brain power by boosting mood, focus, and memory.
Having a high-functioning and healthy brain is important and, unfortunately, this functionality decreases with age. By adding certain foods to your daily diet you can fight off the effects of brain age.