Superfoods that boost your brainpower: Food for brain

Written by: Sirisha Reddy

“The human brain has 100 billion neurons, each neuron connected to ten thousand other neurons. Sitting on your shoulders is the most complicated object in the known universe”, quoted Michio Kaku, an American Physicist. Workings of the human brain are mysteriously fascinating. Have you known that your brain uses nearly 20% of your energy resources? The CEO of your body, your brain, works so hard, relentlessly, never resting. It is important that you take proper care of it.


In this article, ‘Superfoods that boost your brainpower: Food for the brain’, we shall examine 7 superfoods that boost your brainpower and help improve cognition and functioning.

Food for Brain: Relation between food and brain


Nutrition affects both physical and mental health. While some dietary patterns are associated with protective effects against cognitive decline, depression, dementia, etc., a wide variety of other psychological disorders may actually be caused by inflammation that begins in the gut. Numerous studies on lab animals have shown that transplanting microbes from depressed mice to normal mice actually triggers depression in the latter. Maggy Doherty (RD), Owner of her own nutrition private practice, Doherty Nutrition, says, “The food you choose to consume can change how your brain functions, and, how you feel today, as well as overtime”. As the popular adage goes, ‘you are what you eat’. Down below, we have listed several foods that work wonders on your brain from improving your memory to reducing Alzheimer’s. Try adding them to your daily diet to reap benefits.


1. Dark Chocolate

Yes, you read it right. Dark chocolate is actually good for your brain. It is a universal mood-boosting food. Dark chocolate is rich in flavonoids which are strong anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds. Studies show that dark chocolate can help improve learning and memory, increase blood flow to the brain, and protect brain cells from damage. The flavonoids it contains penetrate and accumulate in the hippocampus, a region of the brain involved with memory and learning.


Eating an ounce and a half of dark chocolate every day for two weeks can reduce levels of stress hormones (cortisol and adrenaline). Aim for dark chocolate with at least 70% cocoa.


2. Coffee

Coffee consumption has also been associated with a lower risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. A study suggests that dark roasted coffee, whether regular or decaf, has the strongest protective effect on the brain. Allison, RD and Nutritional Consultant at Momlovesbest, says, “Coffee packs a one, two punch with its caffeine and anti-oxidant content. Caffeine has multiple positive effects on the brain: increased alertness, improved mood, sharpened concentration. Anti-oxidants help protect against oxidative stress and inflammation, which are the major causes of all mental ailments”.


3. Berries

Blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, etc., are rich sources of vitamin C. Intake of berries has been demonstrated to improve memory and learning as well as to slow down cognitive decline. They contain flavonoids, which are natural plant pigments. Flavinoids give berries their vibrant colors. And they have been researched for their memory improving capabilities. Berries are known to be some of the most powerful antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds. “After all, oxidation and inflammation are the reason for most chronic diseases including Alzheimer’s, Heart diseases, Diabetes, Osteoporosis, and more”, says Megan Wong, RD working with Algaecal. Two servings of berries each week suffice the purpose.


4. Salmon

Salmon is the ultimate superfood. It is one of the richest sources of omega-3 fatty acids, DHA, and EPA, which have incredible health benefits like combating the negative effects of stress and reducing the levels of stress hormones. EPA also helps to reduce inflammation in brain cells-inflammation that may trigger stress and anxiety.


Salmon delivers a heart-healthy dose of omega-3 fats and choline (for brain development and memory). Rima Kleiner, MS, RD, and blogger at Dish on Fish, shares, “Eating a variety of seafood 2–3 times each week may help reduce the risk of heart disease and boost brain functioning”.


5. Omega-3 fats

Roughly 60% of the brain is made of fat and half that amount is Omega-3 type fats. It has been found that omega-3 rich foods can help in preventing cognitive diseases and also slow down mental decline. The brain requires omega-3 fats to make nerve cells, which are vital to one’s memory and one’s ability to learn. Omega-3 rich food includes fatty fish, Walnuts, Pumpkin seeds, Chia seeds, Flax seeds, Avocado, Tofu, Navy beans, Canola oil, etc. Adjunct Nutrition Professor, Trista Best, says, “With a list this extensive and diverse, it is easier than expected to take in adequate amounts of omega-3 fatty acids through diet on a regular basis”.


6. Turmeric

Turmeric contains a potent and powerful antioxidant, curcumin, which has been studied for its ability to improve memory, help clear amyloid plaques, boost mood and help new brain cells to grow. A study suggests that curcumin helps prevent amyloid aggregation and crosses the blood-brain barrier (BBB), reaches brain cells, and protects neurons from various toxic insults of aging.


7. Whole grains

Including whole grains in your regular diet can improve your ability to focus and concentrate. Carbohydrates, present in whole grains stimulate the growth of serotonin, a neurotransmitter associated with positive feelings. A study published in the Archives of Internal medicine found that people who followed a very low carbohydrate diet were significantly more depressed, more anxious, and angrier than those who consumed a relatively high carbohydrate diet.


MIND DIET

After reading the above matter, if you are interested in following a healthy diet or a special diet for your brain, you can opt for the MIND diet. It has the strongest evidence in support of brain health and cognitive function. This diet is a hybrid of the Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet. The MIND diet emphasizes the intake of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains while encouraging a low-intake of sodium, processed foods, saturated fats, and dairy. Adherence to the MIND diet has been associated with a reduction in all-cause mortality and delayed age-related cognitive decline. Adherence to this diet has also been associated with a reduced risk of development or progression of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. “All in all, this diet is very healthy, straight-forward, and has a plethora of research backing its effectiveness in both cognitive function, overall health, and mortality”, says, Claudia Hleap, Owner of Hleap Nutrition.


(NOTE: It is advised to consult a dietitian before opting for a new diet.) Link to the original article: https://medium.com/illuminations-mirror/superfoods-that-boost-your-brain-power-food-for-brain-d9e5d9245e52