The inspiration for this post is an article titled, “5o Things You Can Do to Improve Your Brain’s Health” which was posted on the Examined Existence website. Text under the heading, “Article” is an excerpt of the article. I am not planning to share all 50 tips in this post or in the cumulative series of posts titled Feeding the Brain, but I will share a link to the full article in the final (3rd) post of this series.
I am not a nutritionist or medical professional. Check with your physician prior to changing the foods you eat or the beverages you drink. The information in the article, and subsequently in this post, is not suitable for all people.
1. Feed Your Brain with Omega-3
Many experts say that fish is the ultimate food for the brain because of its omega-3 content. These essential fatty acids have anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties, and are thought to reduce the incidence of hemorrhagic stroke. Research studies also suggest its effect on improving brain function. According to Gomez-Pinilla, omega-3 fatty acids increase levels of molecules important for neuroplasticity such as the brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a neurotrophin that regulates the survival, growth and differentiation of nerve cells.
2. Eat Leafy Vegetables
Spinach and other leafy green vegetables contain essential vitamins and minerals that [may] help prevent dementia. And just like spices, these foods are rich in polyphenols that shield the brain from injury and disease. The antioxidants found in leafy greens have also been associated with preventing the recurrence of strokes and the delaying of symptoms of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.
3. Integrate Nuts into Your Diet
Nuts and seeds are packed with zinc that greatly enhances cognitive performance. A group of physicians at the Duke University Medical Center, North Carolina have studied the effect of zinc on the transmission of impulses in the brain, and discovered that zinc enhances nerve function by regulating the plasticity of synapses (gaps in between neurons that serve as areas of impulse transmission). In addition, nuts and seeds contain vitamin E: a powerful antioxidant that enhances cognitive skills.
4. Eat Food Containing Folic Acid and B12
Bread, pasta, and some fortified cereals contain folic acid which regulates neurotransmitter activity and promotes brain development. Aside from these, fish, eggs, and milk contain vitamin B12 that protects brain tissue from disease and injury. A study by Tangney et. al. investigated the effects of vitamin B12 to cognition using MRI cross-sectional examination, and they discovered that B12 preserves cognitive ability by preventing cerebral infarcts (brain death).
5. Load Up with Complex Carbs
Aside from the lack of oxygen, insufficient glucose intake is another reason why people have difficulty thinking and concentrating. The brain needs glucose for its metabolism. The intake of complex carbohydrates increases alertness by breaking down glucose into adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Aside from taking energy drinks, go for food that offers energy for the whole day like whole-wheat bread, oatmeal, and brown rice.
6. Drink Coffee
Coffee is a natural stimulant that activates the sympathetic nervous system, the part of the brain that speeds up cognitive functioning. On top of that, coffee is rich in antioxidants that are responsible for promoting the recovery of your neurons against injury and stress. Research studies show that an 8 oz.-cup of coffee is just enough to optimally improve attention and short-term memory. Top [your coffee with a little cinnamon or nutmeg for some extra boost.
Shadow of Doubt
Keep in mind the list of food and beverages is not customized for your specific needs. Some people may have negative reactions to the food or beverages listed in the Article. For example, some of the listed food and beverages may interact negatively with medicine or supplements you are taking, and some of the items may negatively impact your heart, liver, cholesterol, blood sugar, or other body parts. Furthermore, some of the items listed are known to cause allergic reactions in some people. There may also be a significant difference between the quality or healthfulness of products within a category of food or beverage. The article is also missing any mention of an “ideal” portion size.
Click here to read another Beyond Injury post about brain health.
Thanks to Trina Tbi Chambers-Bradlee who shared the article with me; Examined Existence for publishing the article upon which this post is based; Google for helping me find the picture I used; and all the people who, directly or indirectly, made it possible for me to include the picture and text I used in this post.