Did you know that the brain makes use of a little over 20% of the calories we eat every day? It also needs to derive many of the nutrients it needs to function at the highest level from our diets, including the Omega-3 fatty acids that repair and replace damaged brain cells and the antioxidants that can help reduce cellular inflammation.
Once you realize how important food is to brain, it should prompt you to think about what the best foods might be to ‘feed it’ and boost your own brain power. Here, to help you plan a healthier diet for your brain is a look at what science has to say on the matter. And we’ll tell you right now, some foods that feed the brain may surprise you.
A 2017 study revealed that people with higher levels of Omega-3 fatty acids in their bloodstream showed improved cognitive abilities over their peers and had an increased blood-flow to the brain. These results therefore seem to suggest that eating foods higher in these useful amino acids is a smart idea, and oily fish is one of the best sources of all.
What counts as oily fish? All the following:
Not a fan of fish? Flax seed and soybeans are also excellent natural sources of Omega 3s that are relatively easy to incorporate into an everyday diet.
Avocados are a great example of the good that fat can do both body and brain, as long as it is the ‘right’ fat. Studies have shown that the natural monounsaturated – or ‘good’ – fats that avocados contain in abundance can significantly reduce high blood pressure. High blood pressure has been linked to premature cognitive decline, and so reducing it with the help of this soft, delicate tasting fruit – yes, the avocado is a fruit – may be another way you can use food to help protect your brain health for years to come.
The argument over whether drinking coffee is good or bad for you seems to rage on. But few people argue with the fact that there is little doubt that the caffeine in coffee helps keep you alert. That is thanks to the fact it actively blocks a hormone called adenosine that makes you feel sleepy. But, according to scientists that is not the only benefit your morning cup of java can have for your brain.
A 2018 study published by neurologists from Hangzhou University found that that caffeine causes an increase in brain entropy, a term which refers to complex and variable brain activity. When entropy is high, the brain can process more information. The study could also make the connection between a lifelong coffee habit and a decrease in the risk of all the following:
- cognitive decline
- Parkinson’s disease
- Alzheimer’s disease
While this is all great – and a good reason NOT to give up your morning coffee habit any time soon perhaps remember that too much caffeine will stop you sleeping properly at night, and your brain needs plenty of that to be healthy. Therefore, keep your consumption of caffeine to a reasonable level and don’t drink coffee any later than the mid-afternoon.
First coffee, now chocolate? Who knew that changing your diet to help boost your brain power would be such fun? It’s not just any old chocolate though, only dark chocolate has been shown to actually be good for your brain health.
Dark chocolate contains cacao, which is an excellent source of flavonoids, a type of antioxidant. Cacao flavonoids seem to be good for the brain. According to a 2013 study, they may encourage neuron and blood vessel growth in parts of the brain involved in memory and learning. They may also stimulate blood flow in the brain and improve brain plasticity, which is crucial for learning.
This does not mean that you should eat a bar of chocolate a day of course. Researchers found that a single small daily square of dark chocolate was enough to do the trick.