You know that phrase, “You are what you eat”? Well, it’s pretty accurate, but not literal. You won’t actually turn into a cashew if you are a nut fan or into a piece of broccoli if you are a green food fanatic. I think most of us probably realize just how much food impacts our lives, wellbeing, and our brains. Certain foods are supportive for certain conditions and ailments, and foods that feed your brain are no exception.
As we age, our brain cells can become inflamed and can struggle to communicate with each other. The good news is that you can reignite the spark and keep those old cells chatting happily for years to come, by changing your diet to one that is low in cholesterol and by eating foods that encourage oxygen and blood flow to the brain. Prevent your brain from aging by nourishing it with brain foods!
There is hope out there for those of us who experience forgetfulness, “senior moments” or who are worried about Alzheimer’s-there are a great many foods that support a healthy brain:
Fruits – So sweet and so good!
- Apples are a great little boost for the brain because they contain Quercetin. This handy chemical protects the delicate parts of the brain that are susceptible to free radical damage and potential cognitive decline
- Berries contain a lot of great fuel for your body. Polyphenols, antioxidants, nutrients—all are wonderful re-energizers that will help keep your brain fresh and will help to slow the oxidization process that comes with aging and can slow down neurological responses. Go for blackberries, cherries, and strawberries for a truly yummy brain fix. Try mixing them in a smoothie, dropping some in your cereal or making a fruit salad in the morning
- Avocados are a rich source of healthy fats that nourish your brain and keep you young. They’re also anti-inflammatory!
Vegetables – Make them a big part of your life.
- There are many vegetables that can support your healthy brain; mainly the green leafy variety. Just half a cup of spinach will give you a huge proportion of your daily vitamin K and folate requirements. If you don’t like it straight, try incorporating it into another dish or as a lettuce substitute.
- Asparagus is another great brain food since it’s rich in folic acid. This helps metabolize the long chain fatty acids in your brain, keeping your neurons firing strongly.
Green Tea—More than just a morning motivator.
- Although it’s best not to overindulge, studies have shown that green tea and its array of antioxidants can help reduce the likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s by up to 65%. Just sip a couple of cups a day and enjoy the benefits (not suitable for anyone that is caffeine sensitive).
Spices—Keeping it interesting!
- Turmeric contains Curcumin, a compound that’s both an antioxidant and an anti-inflammatory. It has been shown to help sufferers of Alzheimer’s—a good excuse for that a veggie curry or just add a teaspoon to your smoothie!
- Cinnamon has also been used to inhibit some of the proteins which cause brain cells to die—a sprinkle on your morning apple wouldn’t go amiss or in that beautiful chocolate smoothie, makes a tasty combination.
Nuts—Go, erm, nuts for them.
- Walnuts are the most obvious choice—they are even shaped like little brains! Could they be a more obvious choice? They’ll help your grey matter, being rich in protein and Omega-3 fatty acids—all essential for good brain function.
- Almonds are another good choice since they have folic acid, vitamin E, and protein. A handful of nuts a day is a great snack and also a brain boost.
Iron and Zinc—As part of a healthy, balanced diet.
- It’s always preferable to get your nutrients from actual food as opposed to a pill. That being said, sometimes you need to top up certain vitamins or minerals.
- You don’t have to take a mountain of vitamin pills to ensure your brain is functioning at its best. Studies have shown that Iron and Zinc can help. Look for natural food sources first like spirulina or pumpkin seeds for iron and chickpeas or tahini for zinc. Reduced levels of Iron affect concentration and low a Zinc concentration means that you may not recall words as quick as you would like. That may be why you think of that snappy comeback five minutes too late. Taking a supplement with these two vitamins can help stop those, “It’s on the tip of my tongue!” moments.
So, if you were wondering whether foods actually do have an effect on your brain function, the answer is yes. Start to change your lifestyle a wee bit—just for fun, and you will start to notice a difference. Add some of these super brain foods and you won’t ever forget why you’re doing it!
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