Just like all other organs in the body, the human brain requires nutrients to function, and like all other organs too, it has specific need for specific kinds of nutrients that aids it to function better and more efficiently. Following are foods that contain the kind of nutrients that the brain requires for its efficient functioning. Including these brain foods in your daily diet will improve and enhance your brain performance.
The brain cells, like every other cell in the body, need water to function and thrive. In fact, about three-quarters of the brain is water. So water, as for every other organ in the body, is the first and most important nutrient that the brain needs to function.
Oily fishes like salmon, trout, mackerel, herring, sardines, etc., are good for healthy brain function. Essential fatty acids (EFAs) cannot be made by the body and therefore, must be obtained through diet. The most effective omega-3 fats occur naturally in oily fish as EPA and DHA. Low DHA levels have been linked to a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and memory loss. So including oily fishes in your diet will lower the risk of such brain related diseases.
The brain needs steady supply of energy to function. Whole grains such as oatmeal, whole-grain breads, and brown rice and other brown cereals supply energy in the form of glucose. This glucose is released into the bloodstream, which reaches the brain, keeping you mentally alert throughout the day. Whole grains are also rich in complex carbohydrates, fibre, and some omega 3 fatty acids that shield the heart and brain from damaging sugar spikes, cholesterol, blood clots, and more. Grains also contain B vitamins that have an effect on blood flow to the brain.
Nuts are good source of vitamin E that prevents cognitive decline resulting from old age. Walnuts and almonds are extremely good for the brain and nervous system. They are great sources of omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids, vitamin B6, and vitamin E. Vitamin E improves brain power and has been shown to prevent many forms of dementia by protecting the brain from free radicals.
Spinach can prevent or delay dementia. The nutrients in spinach prevent damage to DNA, cancer cell growth, and tumor growth. It also slows down the effects of ageing of the brain. Spinach is also a good source of folate and vitamin E.
Broccoli is a great source of vitamin K, which is known to enhance cognitive function and improve brainpower. Broccoli is also rich in calcium, vitamin C, B vitamins, beta-carotene, iron and fibre. These nutrients protect against free radicals, keep blood flowing well, and remove heavy metals that can damage the brain.
Tomatoes contain lycopene, a powerful antioxidant that help protect against the kind of cell damage brought about by free radical which occurs in the development of dementia, particularly Alzheimer’s.
Avocados come with many antioxidants of their own, including vitamin E, which protect the body and the brain from free radical damage. Avocados are good source of monounsaturated fats, omega 3, and omega 6 fatty acids. They increase blood flow to the brain, lowering bad cholesterol, and aid in the absorption of antioxidants. Avocados also contain potassium and vitamin K—both of which protect the brain from the risk of stroke.
Berries like blackberry, acai and especially blueberries are antioxidant powerhouses, protecting the brain from oxidative damage and stress and may reduce the effects of age-related conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease or Dementia. Studies have shown that diets rich in blueberries significantly improve both the learning capacity and motor skills. The flavonoids in blueberries also improve the communication between neurons, improving memory, learning, and cognitive functions like reasoning, decision making, verbal fluency, and numerical ability.
Pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds-
Pumpkin seeds contain zinc which enhances memory and thinking skills. Sunflower seed contains a rich mix of protein, omega fatty acids, and B vitamins. These seeds also contain tryptophan, which the brain converts into serotonin to boost mood and combat depression.
Brussels sprouts are a good source of various nutrients such as vitamin B6 and folate, potassium and are naturally low in sodium, all of which are good for the nervous system. Deficiency of vitamin B6 can result in irritability and depression. So, including Brussels sprouts in your diet can help you stay calmer which in turn will help maintain a healthy brain.
Dark chocolates that has 70% and above cocoa content are good brain food. They contain flavonoids, a class of antioxidants that some research has linked to brain health. The flavonoids in dark chocolates improve the function of blood vessels, which in turn improves cognitive function and memory. Eating chocolate produces happy hormone- endorphin- which improves and uplifts mood which in turn is good for brain health as it combats depression.
Studies have suggested that green tea may have a beneficial impact on the brain’s cognitive functions. The chemical present in green tea -ECGC- was found to boost the generation of brain cells in mice, which seemed to improve memory and learning in mice. Another study on the topic found that the chemical properties of green tea promotes the generation of brain cells, providing benefits for memory and spatial learning.