Brain (along with heart) is the most important organ we have. Actually I will go little further and say brain is your greatest asset. It can be you rocket to the moon or your unclimbable mountain.
What do you do to improve brain function?
It is a well known fact that food affects the brain. You get sugar rush from too much sweets, mental alertness from coffee, lightheadedness from hunger (in this case the lack of food causes the effects) and these are just short term effects. Do you know there is connection between carbohydrates and ADHD, or between lack of fats and depression?
But, can food improve brain function? The answer is YES!
Any food you consume will affect your brain. Which is great news because that means you can eat your way to better brain performance. After en extensive research I formulated a list of best foods that will improve brain function. The food that is rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and good fats, and also gives energy, protects against diseases and helps brain to stay in top form. These are foods you should have on your daily menu all your life. They are not medicine, they are prevention to keep your brain in top form so you don’t need medicine.
˝Food is healthcare, medicine is sick care.˝
TOP 10 SUPERFOODS TO IMPROVE BRAIN FUNCTION
1. Egg A Day
Eggs are good source of protein which is important for your cognitive abilities (you can read this article to learn more about cognitive abilities and importance of making sure they are in top form ). Additionally egg yolks contain (and are the best source of) substance choline that aids to your memory, partakes in production of serotonin and helps in the development of fetal brain.
Check out these quick and healthy egg recipes.
2. Whole Grains
Complex carbohydrates, such as oats and whole wheat, in appropriate amounts are your allies. Glucose is energy for brain, but for it to be effective you want steady stream throughout the day. That is where comes oats and other whole grain complex carbohydrates. It takes a long time for your body to break down such carbs thus enabling slow and steady release of energy.
Take a look at my collection of delicious and easy oat recipes.
3. Nuts for Nuts and Seeds
Our brain needs essential fatty acids to keep that conversation between brain cells going.
Nuts are not only good source of fats that convert to energy and the best brain food. They are packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants just take a look at this list And these are only the main nutrients there is much more in these little nuts:
• walnuts-source of omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants that together working together improve brain function
• peanuts-great source of healthy fats, rich in cooper, calcium, zinc, iron
• brazil nuts-only 1 contains a daily dose of selenium
• almonds-contains manganese, magnesium(stress killer), vitamin E (good for cognitive performance AND hair, skin and nails)
• hazelnuts-rich in calcium, magnesium, potassium, vitamin E and phytochemicals that support brain health, strengthen blood vessels
So are you nuts for nuts? I know I am, that is why I always have stash of mixed nuts.
Whenever you feel a drop in concentration or brain strain go for a handful of nuts and your brain will liven up.
Seeds are another great source of essential fats.
Sprinkle flaxseed ( or sesame) on salad or soup, actually you can sprinkle flaxseed on pretty much any meal. Try toasting flax seeds on a pan and mix in yogurt or kefir.
Nibble on sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds(full of minerals that improve memory and concentration) while reading a book (or netflixing).
Berries are one of the best SuperFood one can find. Some researches show that blueberries, strawberries and acai berries might be able to postpone (if not completely stop) decline in cognitive functions due to aging. Well once again it is proven that good things come in small packages. Berries are packed with antioxidants which help in cleaning the brain from toxic proteins(which cause memory loss), protect cells from damage, and reduce effects of stress. Moreover studies have shown that daily consumption of blueberries improves learning abilities, memory and motor skills.
Lentils, beans and peas. Most underappreciated food. Full of vitamins and minerals. Source of proteins, fiber and complex carbohydrates. In terms of brain benefits it is brain fuel with slow and steady glucose release. additionally if you eat legumes regularly it may improve overall brain performance.
But there is something even better about legumes. Legumes are the best dietary food: low in caloric value but very filling food which leads to eating less and feeling full longer. Do you need more reasons to include legumes in your diet?
Essential fatty acids bear name essential for a reason. Without them, in our organism, brain can’t function. In a sense that thinking becomes slow and memory and cognitive abilities decline. Because our bodies can’t produce these substances it is crucial for brain health to bring them in with food.
Most of us consume enough omega-6 EFA because they can be found in larger variety of foods like leafy green vegetables, poultry, eggs, nuts, avocado…
Whereas omega-3 EFA not so much. Omega-3 can be found in deep-water fish like wild salmon, herring, sardines and mackerel.
If you don’t eat fish don’t worry. You can find omega-3 in flax seeds, walnuts, soybeans, mungo beans and in oils like flax oil, canola oil, walnut oil.
Avocado is a fruit that lowers blood pressure, promotes healthy blood flow which leads to healthy brain and reduces risk of dementia and depression. Avocado is also a caloric food so go easy on it but definitely include at least ¼ of an avocado a day.
Scrambled eggs and few slices of avocado will be energizing and healthy breakfast.
8. Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate (with at least 70% cocoa solids) is another great source of antioxidants, but also sugars and stimulants (like caffeine) so few cubes a day will be enough to reap the benefits. In moderate amounts can help regulate blood pressure and improve blood flow.
Pomegranate is fruit rich in fiber, vitamins and minerals, and a very strong antioxidant. It is sad that daily drinking of pomegranate juice can increase learning performance and memory. Also some researches show that regular consumption can lower blood pressure and improve blood flow.
Try making a juice or adding to smoothie or salads, also pomegranate will pair nicely with savory food.
10. Beet Root
Beets are one healthy vegetable too often forgotten. Strong antioxidant. Contains substances that increase blood flow to brain that improve brain functions. Additionally, beets and workout go hand in hand, while exercising it lifts your energy levels so you have better endurance.
Also I must mention green tea. It contains antioxidant that improves blood flow and small amount of caffeine. It is great replacement for coffee, it will give you mild but consistent brain boost (as opposite to coffee that gives you strong boost but when caffeine runs out it throws you down) and improve your focus, memory and mood.
It is proven that coffee early in the morning is not good for your health. Your brain sends ˝wake up˝ hormones naturally, but if you drink coffee your brain will stop sending those hormones. That means that you shut down one brains function and in turn you will always feel grumpy before drinking coffee. Now there is a way to go back to normality. This doesn’t mean you should not drink coffee at all, just not early morning. Let your organism do the work it has to do, and if it needs little help drink green tea instead.
I know it’s hard to go sleep early, we all want few more hours every day. But think about is it worth your health? We don’t see how much damage we make to our body every day until it’s too late. Recently I started going to bed 1 hour earlier than usually, gradually stopped drinking coffee and switched to green tea. Honestly I have never felt better and had more energy through the whole day. Before I would always have drop in energy and concentration around 2 pm, now I am awake all day and full of energy.
Few more words before you go.
Only food is not enough. Food is for the long term benefits, so your brain function don’t decline rapidly with age. But you should also consider your water intake (80% of brain is made up of water and it’s crucial to keep that percentage), physical activity (for brain to function best it needs fresh blood supply, light jog, quick walk or 10 minute cardio will do the trick ) and some form of brain training such as variety of puzzles, chess, reading, writing. Also there are many mobile apps that can help you exercise your brain on daily basis with interesting games. to learn more check out 15 fun brain exercises.